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Supporting your staff this Christmas

Boosting staff morale

It’s the busiest time of the year for many businesses. However, tackling staff challenges in the right way could help the festive season go smoothly. 

With early deadlines, staff holidays, supplier closures and heightened demand, trading in the run-up Christmas is not always a recipe for festive cheer.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By providing additional support to your team, managing cashflow challenges and keeping track of your accounts, you could help change your relationship with money and feel more in control of your business this Christmas.

Manage seasonal workers carefully

You’ve made plans to take on extra staff in the run-up to Christmas. But have you considered how your expanded workforce will get along? Seasonal staff need to feel valued and engaged, while your permanent employees don’t want to feel undermined by the new recruits.

The key is good communication. Don’t skimp on the onboarding process for the temporary recruits; give them the training they need, including introducing them to the culture and values of your business.

Make sure you explain to permanent staff why you’re bringing in more workers – and ask members of the team to act as mentors to their new colleagues. Plus, check in with all your teams regularly, leading by example to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent workers.

Be open about overtime

Your employees know there will be times when they may need to work longer than usual, and that’s especially likely in December.

Even so, you should think carefully before asking staff to work overtime: some staff may be happy to stay later, particularly if extra pay is available, but others less so.

First, be sure where you stand legally. It’s only reasonable to ask staff to work extra hours if there are provisions in their employment contracts that entitle you to do so; if not, they’re within their rights to refuse.

“Start by asking for volunteers and think about whether it’s feasible to offer rewards for extra hours, or some other intangible benefit,” suggests Melanie Darlington, senior HR consultant at small business adviser Alcumus PSM.

Be as flexible as you can about when overtime is worked, to help staff with commitments outside of work. And be prepared to give as well as take – can you offer reduced hours in the new year, for example?

Finally, make sure employees aren’t taking on too much. Lare Noel, HR manager at Redwood, a marketing agency, says: “In any industry, it’s important for employers to consider whether workers are able to cope with the additional hours they sign up for, so that overtime doesn’t have a detrimental effect on their employees’ mental and physical health.”

Timing payday right

Paying your staff a few days earlier in December could help them manage the additional costs leading up to Christmas Day. But have you considered the impact of bringing forward your payroll run on your business’s cash flow? Crucially, will you have sufficient cash coming in to support the early payments?

Tread carefully – it’s common for businesses to hit cash flow challenges over the festive season. Your customers may struggle to pay their bills on time, or you might have to spend extra money on stock; as a result, you could actually have less cash available than usual during the weeks before Christmas.

There are steps you can take to help protect and enhance your cashflow in the run-up to Christmas.

Get your invoices out quickly to give your business the best chance of getting paid on time. Create and send invoices to your customers straight from your smartphone with the Barclays app. Terms and conditions apply. You must have a current account with us, be aged 16 or over and have a mobile number to use the Barclays app.

Barclays Invoicing provides a way of issuing digital invoices on the go, even before you’ve left a client’s premises. Terms and conditions apply. You must have a Barclays Business current account and have a mobile number to use this feature in the Barclays app.

Learn more about how to conquer cash flow challengesIf you would like to discuss how Christmas is impacting working capital and get help considering funding options, call our Business Lending team on 0333 202 74301Calls to 03 numbers are charged at the same rate as dialling an 01 or 02 number. If your fixed line or mobile service has inclusive minutes to 01/02 numbers, then calls to 03 are counted as part of this inclusive call volume.

For example, an overdraft can provide headroom during quieter periods. Barclays also provides a range of Business credit card options, and we now also offer flexible invoice finance solutions through an innovative partnership with MarketFinance.

We’ll refer you to MarketFinance, which is a separate legal entity to Barclays. We have a commercial interest in their business. If your application is approved, the product will be provided and administered by MarketFinance and you’ll be asked to accept their terms, conditions and operations. A portion of the revenue will be shared with Barclays Bank UK PLC.

Lending is subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history. Our Business Lending team can talk you through the options and help you choose what’s right for your business.

Planning the holiday rota

Unsurprisingly, your staff will want to take time off. Indeed, you may want to close the business on certain days.

Make your approach to Christmas time-off crystal clear. Some employers count the days they are closed between Christmas and New Years as part of an employees’ annual leave entitlement, while others count this time as ‘company days’, provided on top of annual leave.

Either way, encourage your workers to give you as much notice as possible when requesting time off.

In reality, no one wants to force employees to work over Christmas and miss out on time with their family. Aim for consensus and try to encourage employees to talk to each other about who will take which days. They may be able to find a solution to late requests you receive in the next few weeks.

Alternatively, be prepared to be creative. If possible, consider letting staff work from home, or give them more leeway about their hours.

Celebrating Christmas sensibly

A Christmas party can be a great way to thank your staff for all their hard work over the year. But take care with festive celebrations – not everyone will want to take part. For those who do, it’s important that they know how to behave sensibly.

If you’re planning a traditional party, make sure your company’s behaviour and social media policies are widely circulated and very clear. Drunkenness, misuse of social media and more could land both employee and employer in hot water.

Make it clear to staff that while you want them to have a good time and enjoy the occasion, it’s still a work event.

Think practically too. Are you sure staff can get home safely at the end of the evening? Would a celebration at a different time of year make more sense? 

Quick morale boosters

Christmas might be the ideal time to show that you value your staff – but that doesn’t have to mean a big expensive gesture. “First and most important, say thank you,” advises Melanie Darlington. “Consider appropriate rewards and incentives that reflect your employees’ commitment and professionalism.”

Secret Santa, quizzes and baking events are popular. But be imaginative – you know your staff better than anyone else, so think about what they might appreciate. Anything from an advent calendar to a voucher for a family day out might go down well.

Stay in control, wherever you are

With so much to think about in the run up to Christmas, it can be hard to keep track of your finances.

The Barclays app could help make it easier to stay on top of your business over the festive season. As well as invoicing on the move, you can get instant help, transfer money and make payments to new and existing payees.

Find out more about the Barclays app. Terms and conditions apply. You must have a Barclays current account, be aged 16 or over and have a mobile number to use the Barclays app.

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