The warm summer months are approaching fast and most employees are getting revved up for some form of a holiday in the sun. Of course this depends on the type of business – for some, summer is the quietest time of the year anyway, in which case a respite from the hustle and bustle is up for grabs. But for other businesses however, this might be a time when additional staff are needed to cope with the sales pipeline, but a lack of money prevents recruitment of seasonal workers. Here are top tips to help you cope with reduced staff numbers without taking on temporary staff or agency workers:

1. Plan ahead

Addressing the issue early is the best way to deal with a reduced workforce, and for new businesses the obvious opportunity to address the problem is when writing or adapting their business plan. Having a strategy in place to overcome reoccurring issues such as this keeps the business on track, and gives you confidence that sales will not suffer. Encourage your employees to put in leave early so that you can delegate important tasks early, without putting too much added pressure on thos who remain

2. Make existing employees aware of the holiday policy

Your team need to understand that there are regulations concerning holidays, so let them know:
•  How many days holiday they are entitled to
•  The start and finish dates for the ‘leave year’ – these vary from business to business, with some following a straightforward policy of January to December, and others preferring to start the leave year in July
•  If they can carry over any days to the following year

3. Allocate a team leader as a temporary manager

Choose an employee that you trust with the added responsibility – someone you know will be diplomatic with others and who is capable of keeping up with their own workload. Most people respond positively to being kept in the picture, so tell the other members of staff about the scope of your stand-in’s authority and responsibilities, and ask for their support while you are away. Let everyone know that keeping the office running smoothly should be the collective responsibility of all staff. This minimises the risk of any back-stabbing or general mutinous tendencies in your absence.

 4. Organise a job-sharing scheme at the start of the year

Arranging for your staff to ‘job-share’ with each other for a week or so during the year will be time well spent when the summer arrives. Just by being aware of what a co-worker’s main responsibilities are and how they carry them out, will ensure that the most important parts of their role are covered during the holiday season.

5. Encourage staff to complete important projects and carry out a formal handover

By completing as much of their important work as possible, the risk of a major problem while they are away is minimised. A formal handover of work to another designated member of staff, with detailed instructions for any outstanding jobs, should keep the business ticking over.

6. Leave an ‘out of office’ message

Members of staff with their own dedicated phone extension could leave a personalised message that lets callers know they are away, for how long, and who to contact in their absence. Callers will appreciate the information, and even if they wait for the employee’s return, at least they have been kept informed of what is happening.

7. Inform customers via social media

Posting a simple message on the company Facebook page is all that is needed to keep customers updated. Inform people of who is in charge if you are away, and when you will be back at the helm. Social media outlets are perfect for getting your message to a large group of customers at the same time.

Developing a good relationship with your staff will reap rewards on both sides. A climate of cooperation – understanding staff needs in addition to those of the business – will encourage loyalty and help your company to move forward in the long-term.