Black Friday: how to keep productivity up when prices drop...

  • Employee Conduct
Kate Palmer FCIPD - Director of HR Advice and Consultancy at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director

(Last updated )

Black Friday is nearly upon us. It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated days of the year. And an utter nightmare for HR and health & safety if employers don’t prepare…

Black Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. With debit cards at the ready, excited buyers will be waiting for retailers to ship out the biggest deals on all the latest gadgets, clothes, and more.

To make sure you don’t land a poor deal in your workplace this Black Friday, here are some staff issues that are likely to pop up and how to manage them…

1. Staff working longer hours

Your staff might be working longer hours than usual because of such increased demand.

If so, check your contracts to find out how overtime works in your company and whether you’ll need to pay them extra. Most retail and hospitality staff will be entitled to overtime pay.

You’ll also need to make sure your staff don’t exceed the maximum weekly working limit of 48 hours (unless they’ve already opted out of this).

And be aware that working long hours can massively contribute to…

2. Staff burnout

If you’re a retailer, frantic shoppers will show no mercy to your workforce.

Events like Black Friday put staff under a lot of pressure, physically and mentally. That’s why good communication is vital. You need to let staff know that they can reach out to you if they’re struggling. You should also look out for tell-tale signs, like withdrawal, heightened emotional reactions, and longer breaks.

To help prevent burnout, you should:

  • train staff on how to navigate high-pressure environments
  • train managers on how to support staff during stressful events
  • make sure your workers understand what’s expected of them and how to report any issues
  • organise everyone’s tasks and checklists, so your workers know exactly what they need to keep on top of and what everyone else is doing
  • distribute workloads fairly
  • tell your staff about your employee assistance programme if you have one

3. Health & safety issues

Black Friday often creates ‘mob behaviour’ in stores across the globe.

Imagine a stampede of shoppers come flooding through your doors. You could end up with some serious health & safety issues and damage to business property.

Staff and customers alike could injure themselves if you don’t take steps to prevent crowds from getting out of control.

That’s why you need to make sure:

  • you train staff on how to safely manage busy crowds
  • you have an emergency plan if things get out of control
  • you know your safety exits and can relay this information to customers 
  • there’s nothing blocking your exits throughout the day
  • you limit the number of customers in the store at one time

4. Staff online shopping during work hours

Staff who spend long hours working on computers may find the online deals too hard to resist…

So, what starts as a quick browse turns into hours of scrolling. That’s why you need to set rules or productivity may be non-existent.

Remind staff of your company policies on internet use and social media at work.

Even if you decide to relax your rules on the day, you can still set boundaries. You might want to send an email out to staff in advance. Let them know what you expect from them and the disciplinary action you’ll take if they don’t follow company guidelines.

5. Being understaffed

If staff want Black Friday off to go shopping, they may bombard you with annual leave requests or call in sick.

Make sure your workers understand your sickness absence policies and procedures. Also, check your contracts and handbooks are up to date.

If too many employees request the day off, you’ll need to follow the steps in your holiday policy. A good way to manage leave requests is to have a first-come first-serve rule. That way, your staff know that if you reject their request, it’s not personal and they can’t accuse you of being unfair.

If your employee doesn’t show up for work and they haven’t let you know, you should:

  • call them to find out why they’re not in work and why they didn’t tell you
  • remind them how to report absences (if you accept their reason for missing work)
  • ask them to come into work (f you don’t accept their reason)

You may be able to take disciplinary action for unauthorised absences. So, keep notes of the conversations and when you tried to contact your worker.

Get the best deal for your workforce with HR and health & safety support

Black Friday can bring a lot of stress, distraction, and risk to your workplace.

So, now is the time to prepare your policies, contracts, and procedures to keep your staff safe and in line for when the deals land. Failing to do so could leave you with burnt out, unproductive, absent, or even injured employees…

For advice on how to confront a staff issue in the right way and help updating your documentation, call 0800 029 4384 today.

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