One of the most difficult balancing acts with which companies of all sizes are faced is managing workloads during that time of year when every employees’ thoughts turn to lazy days on sun soaked beaches. Staggering holidays helps to a certain extent but if you have a large number of employees with school-age children, it really isn’t fair to ask them to take their holiday long after the new school year has already begun. Most companies find that they simply have to make do and get by as best they can during those annual six weeks in which the majority of their workers are keen to make holiday plans.
Is There a Better Way?
There really is no way of getting around the fact that any employee with school-aged children will want to take their annual holiday during the six weeks when schools in the United Kingdom are closed for summer, but there a few ways in which you can lessen the negative effects that this annual staff exodus has on your business:
- Employ More Single People
If you want to keep your offices adequately staffed throughout the summer, hiring young, single employees who are more flexible with regard to holiday dates is one possible approach. However, you need to remember that young, single people inevitably become older, married people with children so this is not a long-term fix. Furthermore, by instituting a hiring policy that favours a younger age group you will not only be forfeiting the benefits that accrue from hiring experienced employees, you may also run afoul of the laws that are in place to prevent just such discrimination in the workplace
- Hire Temporary Staff to Cover
Another possibility, and one that many firms have tried in the past – with varying degrees of success – is to hire temporary workers to make up for the shortfall in numbers of permanent staff experienced on a yearly basis. This strategy tends to be more successful when covering for unskilled labour. The more skills and knowledge that are required to do a particular job, the less likely it is that a temporary employee will be able to cope. Using an agency to recruit temporary workers can also be an expensive undertaking.
- Close for Business for a Few Weeks
This is an option that may be viable for companies involved in seasonal businesses, whose quietest time of year just happens to coincide with the time when the majority of their employees are keen to take their annual holiday, but for others it is simply not possible. If your clients depend on the products or services you are providing them with throughout the year, they could well find another provider during the period that you are closed for business. It is for this reason that most business owners will not even contemplate option number three.
- Offer Overtime to Remaining Employees
You can recoup a certain amount of lost productivity by asking those workers who are not on holiday to put in a few extra hours every day. This works well for many manufacturing companies but is impractical for those that provide consultancy services or that have a large telesales department. If you are dealing with a large volume of enquiries on an hourly basis, asking staff to work a couple of extra hours at the end of the day will be of little help. What you really need is more people to handle calls during normal business hours.
- Outsource Certain Functions
The final option we are going to consider is the one that could prove to be the most effective, especially if your priority is ensuring that all customer enquiries continue to be dealt with promptly and efficiently during the summer holiday period. Outsourcing call handling is one of the simplest ways to deal with such an issue and with the cost and availability of professional telephone answering services today, it is one of the most inexpensive and convenient too. The main factor that will determine the success or failure of this approach is how effectively you communicate your desires and your company philosophy to the provider of the call handling services with which you choose to deal.
The Cost of Doing Nothing
Most copanies will focus on the cost of the various options they consider, whether those we listed above or other ones. However, we feel that it is far more important to first analyse the cost of doing nothing, i.e. how much business does your company currently lose on an annual basis owning to staff shortages in the summer? Once you have a handle on this figure, you will be in a much better position to evaluate which options are cost effective and which are clearly too expensive when considering the possible benefits they could deliver. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of summer holiday cover but it should be possible to quickly identify the most plausible solutions once you know how much money is at stake.
Choosing Your Outsourcing Partners Carefully
If you decide to follow the lead of many other companies in the UK and across the globe, and outsource some or all of your business operations during the summer, you should be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of time researching the service providers that you find in your part of the world. At Message Direct, we specialise in call handling and other telecommunications services so it is only on this particular subject that we are able to speak with some authority. However, the same logic applies to the outsourcing of any business function as far as we are concerned: you need to have absolute trust and confidence in your partners if the arrangement is to stand any chance of working properly.
In order to establish whether or not you can trust a certain company, you should ask for references from previously satisfied customers and, if at all possible, a free trial of the services that they provide.