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Ten tips to manage staff during the holidays

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At this time of year, when employees will be taking their holiday, it’s essential that firms plan ahead to ensure business is not disrupted. 

With economic prospects still difficult, firms cannot let the holidays get the best of them. 

Businesses must ensure that cash is kept flowing by examining their debt collection and bill paying procedures as well as making sure proper safeguards are in place.

Here are ten top tips for SMEs to manage staff during the holiday period:

  1. Try to anticipate employee holidays. How many staff and which staff can you afford to be away at the same time?
  2. Getting cash into your business is as critical as paying out. At holiday times you will have staff away – but so have your customers. Plan ahead to avoid payment delays.
  3. Make sure invoices are still paid on time, otherwise you could damage your credit rating, limiting access to supplies on credit.
  4. If the person authorising payment is away, make sure that someone else can authorise it in their absence. The same applies with cheque signatories.
  5. Make sure staff complete a proper handover and that the handover is given enough time before people go away. Ensure that staff use their out of office email and that an alternative contact is given.
  6. See if staff are happy for others to have access to view their emails. This may help avoid any nasty surprises when they return. Also make suppliers or customers aware of alternatives to their regular contacts.
  7. Look after remaining staff and make sure they understand why they are expected to take on extra work – staff on holiday will be expected to cover for them when they are away on leave.
  8. Debrief people when they get back – this will enable them to get back “up to speed” quickly.
  9. Once people have returned from holiday, give them time to adjust. However, try to make sure that people regain their productivity quite quickly.
  10. Suggest that staff book their next holiday soon after they get back – this will give them something to look forward to and will also help you plan ahead.

Clive Lewis is head of enterprise at the ICAEW.

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