Dealing With Seasonal Changes in Workload

Planning for Busy and Quiet Periods

Dealing With Seasonal Changes in Workload - Planning for Busy and Quiet Periods

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Some business cycles are as predictable as spring or fall.

No matter what industry you work in, chances are that you'll experience some seasonal change in your organization's activity. For example, if you work in retail, you're likely to have a busy period before the holidays.

Your organization may need to work particularly hard during this time, so that it can generate the revenue needed to survive leaner months ahead.

However, busy periods can be difficult to manage – for you as a manager, and for your team. Unless you plan ahead, you may find that you're short on staff, or that your team members struggle to cope with their increased workloads.

Of course, in many industries, there are also quieter periods. These can happen when customers are on vacation, after major deadlines such as year ends, or after the end of the holiday season.

As a manager, you need to deal with the impact of these seasonal variations on your team. When you do this, you can ensure that you have the resources you need, that your people feel supported, and that you make the most of each person's skills.

In this article, we'll look at how you can manage seasonal changes in your team's workload.

Seasonal Workload Changes

Many businesses experience changes in workload throughout the year. For example:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau records that sales increased by an estimated 39.3 percent in U.S. department stores over the holiday season, from $18.6 billion in November to $25.9 billion in December 2012.
  • The U.S. National Retail Federation states that the busy season can represent up to 40 percent of annual sales for some organizations.
  • And, retailers hired 720,500 extra seasonal employees during the 2012 holiday period, which was a 13 percent increase from the previous year.

Prepare for Increased Workloads

Use the strategies below to guide your team management approach for the year ahead.

Understand the Bigger Picture and Create a Plan

When you start a new management role, it's important to understand how seasonality affects the organization. Look at...

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