Staffing for the Holiday Season
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Posted by Michael S. on October 4, 2016 in Manufacturer Focus

The holiday season is coming up fast! As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, your employees will likely want to take time off from work to spend with their families. Do you have a plan that keeps your production at needed levels during this holiday season?

 

An increase in time-off requests from employees can put manufacturing companies in a bind—especially if they’re also facing an increased demand for products during the holiday shopping season.

 

As a business owner, there are a few things you can do to lessen the impact that time-off requests have on output, utilization, productivity, and customer demand.

 

Because the holiday season comes every year at the same time, you can plan ahead. Use your historical data for time-off requests, and adjust your capacity so you are not overcommitting to your customers.

 

You could also consider bringing temporary staff in to help offset the lost hours. If you go that route, you have to plan ahead. During the holiday season, the demand for temp workers increases. Many companies, especially retailers and delivery companies, need extra staff to deal with their increased demand. Make sure your temp staff is trained and ready to cover for your experienced staff’s time off.

 

If you are already working with a temp agency, you have done most of your pre-work. If not, you need to start the process of selecting an agency. Take time to choose the right agency. That will save you money and disappointment in the long run.

 

Here are some other options for managing time-off requests:

 

  • Plan and schedule overtime before the holiday season. This can be a costly option, depending on your overtime pay structure, so be sure to budget for the extra cost.

  • Develop a time-off policy. Some companies require employees to place time-off requests days, weeks, or even months ahead of time. Other companies limit the amount of staff off at any one time. This can be a set number or a percentage of employees for the whole company or by department. You can also set time-off deadlines, such as requiring all time-off requests to be handed in by April 1 each year.

  • Shut down your operation for the holiday weeks. This option impacts delivery time and overall product flow, so you need to plan and schedule accordingly. Unfortunately, unpaid time off could cause some of your employees financial stress. Consider allowing them to cover the shutdown with paid time off. Also, make sure your sales team knows about the shutdown and doesn’t plan orders to be run during that time.

  • Require holiday time-off requests to be submitted by the first of September and then schedule your production capacity accordingly. This option allows people who don’t have time off, or who need money, to work. It also allows production to continue and accepted customer orders to run.

 

Just like flu season and summer, the holiday season comes every year. Remember, many other companies experience similar issues with time-off requests. Get ahead of them—plan thoroughly and early. Companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx have hired as many as 250,000 seasonal or temporary workers among them for just the last three months of the year.

 

Time off directly impacts your capacity, cash flow, and customers. So take the initiative and plan now. With the right planning, both you and your employees can enjoy this joyful time of year.

Michael S. is our Manufacturing guru
I have over 30 years experience in a broad range of manufacturing areas. Starting with an apprenticeship in Germany I’ve worked my way through a variety of positions within the manufacturing field. I got my start as a Tool and Die maker. I next became a supervisor of a class A tool room, then manager of a machining department. I was exposed to lean manufacturing in the mid 90s and adapted the lean philosophy. Loving and teaching the lean approach, I moved on to become a Continuous Improvement manager which led to a job as a manufacturing manager. I joined Acuity in 2015 as their manufacturing expert. I hope to evolve how manufacturers deal with and think about insurance companies, as well as be a resource to my fellow employees – enabling them to better understand the unique needs of manufacturers.


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