Does this question haunt you? As L & D head, or as the person tasked with managing your retail operations, does this scary thought keep you up at nights? Perhaps, this blog is too late to help you with the 2018 shopping season. But, here’s hoping it will help you plan your way into the 2019 season better!

Your frontline employees can either make or break a deal with the customers – their attitude, their behavior towards the customers, their pitch – all these factors impact your customers’ buying decision. The challenge is that your staff at this time probably includes a significant portion of temp staff hired just for the seasonal rush. At the same time, it is the holiday season for your frontline staff too. Emotionally they’re probably trying to strike a balance between their work and the holiday mood too.

Here are some ways in which you can ensure your frontline staff is ready for the holiday season:

Provide faster and smoother onboarding

Onboarding your employees, especially for the festive season, is extremely important in making sure your business is festival-ready. Make sure you have a clear process in place for your training team to follow. The training should focus on context as much as content. Make the content easy to access and to digest and provide lots of opportunities for assessment through quizzes and other interactive elements. This will help you analyze their onboarding, show you scope for improvement, as well as help them engage more.

Scheduling workforce sensitively

Irregular work timings, on-call, and split-shifts can make your employees extremely erratic since they cannot plan their day. This increases their stress, leading to more conflict in their personal lives as well. This eventually results in a loss of productivity and agitated demotivated staff. Planning and scheduling your workforce thoughtfully can help address some of these issues and improve the quality of the interactions your frontline staff have with your customers.

Training modules

The best and the worst part about the festive season is that it gets extremely busy. At this time, your staff does not want to waste their time and effort doing things they see as non-essential. Customize your training modules specifically for the holiday/festive season. Keep the modules short and easily accessible from centrally placed desktops or terminals. Creating training modules that are shorter, context-specific, and at the same time that carry all important information would be ideal. These will also ensure greater knowledge transfer and retention and therefore, better outcomes.

Reward and recognition

The holiday season is a time of great joy and festivity for the rest of the world but of intense effort for your staff. Your frontline employees put in that extra effort to ensure the success of your business. Their effort deserves both reward and recognition. Incentivize their performance monetarily based on the achievement of specific location-wide, team-wide, and personal goals. Send them words of appreciation and let them know that the effort they are putting in is visible and valued.

Focus on employee enablement more than employee engagement

Focus on having strategies and policies in place for your long-term as well as seasonal employees. Provide them the information, tools, and support they need to do their jobs well, and then try to stay out of their way as they go about doing just that. Chances are that most of the temporary staff you hire will be smart, tech-savvy millennials. For them, learning works better than teaching. Understand that this is the generation that believes in working smart and fast. They will always try and find a better way to do their jobs and that should be encouraged.

Listen to your frontline staff

Your frontline staff is your window to your customer. This is the channel for you to derive several valuable insights. Make listening to your frontline staff an ongoing part of your briefing and debriefing. This will help you plan your next holiday season better and your staff feels heard too. When they know their opinion actually matters, they will be encouraged to share it with you.

For most companies that are preparing for the holiday season, remember that your business is only as good as those who represent it directly to your customers. This is why proper training and onboarding of your frontline employees is extremely crucial. If they are well-informed and equipped to deal with the holiday rush, the holiday season will be a smooth ride for your business. Communicate with your frontline staff, take their suggestions, and make them feel valued and watch as they give your customers the best experience this holiday season.

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