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Last year’s Black Friday saw a whopping 180 million shoppers hit the stores — and this year is expected to be just as busy for retailers, if not busier. Customers are excited about doorbuster deals, and shop owners are excited to see large profits. What about the employees, though?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Black Friday can be one of the most stressful times for workers. Not only are they working on a day most spend with their loved ones, but they must also deal with busy (and often irate) crowds. Employees must keep up a fast pace and, as a result, can often feel burnt out and wary of clocking in for their next shift.

Fortunately, from a human resources perspective, there are several ways that business owners of all sizes can keep their employees motivated during this pivotal day. 

Best Black Friday HR Practices

1. Encourage Communication

One of the best HR practices on (and before) this hectic shopping day is to encourage communication among the staff. Many times, a simple inquiry with employees about their Black Friday concerns can go a long way. Doing so creates a safe, positive environment and opens a discussion about how to best handle business during operating hours. Moreover, communication is a great preventative measure to resolve issues before they become major problems on the big day itself. 

HR staff can also implement safety measures and coach staff on how to handle common Black Friday situations, such as how to deal with an upset shopper. 

2. Hire Early

Many employers wait until the last moment to hire additional staff, which can lead to a whole other litany of issues. For instance, managers may end up hastily hiring unfit staff for fear of not having enough hands on deck. 

To really get a good head start, human resources can start looking for candidates in late August or early September. This gives HR time to find fit, competitive, and prepared workers. Additionally, this gives managers enough time to train new staff properly and create action plans for how the store should be run on the day. If business owners have a difficult time finding full-time workers, they can also look for temporary or contract workers. Doing so creates a wider pool of job candidates. 

3. Be Transparent 

In addition to getting prepared as early as possible, business owners benefit from being completely transparent with the expected work schedule. The last thing employees need is a surprise, including learning at the last minute the hours they must work. HR should give staff members ample time to prepare and make sure everyone is on board with the shifts being assigned. It’s also a good idea to provide an overtime option for employees who would like to take advantage of it.

4. Ensure Safety

Every Black Friday, there seems to be a headline or two involving a safety incident reported at a retail store. Perhaps shoppers got too excited and caused an accident while trying to secure their items. Sometimes, there can even be acts of violence between competing customers (or employees). 

Avoiding such disasters is imperative, so HR should prepare safety measures well in advance. Some good safety practices include:

  • Hiring staff trained to deal with unruly crowds and prevent injuries
  • Creating an emergency plan to enact if things get out of control
  • Sharing safety announcements with customers, including the location of exits
  • Crafting crowd-control strategies, including limiting the number of customers in the store
  • Ensuring that all exits remain unblocked throughout the day

5. Prepare Inventory

While preparing your inventory may seem like a no-brainer for most retailers, failing to do so properly can lead to additional stress for staff. To avoid this, managers should order supplies and products well in advance, ensuring that employees know how to handle situations where items may be out of stock. Meanwhile, some customers may become frustrated if their desired product is unavailable or if they need to wait longer to receive it. Make sure each employee is trained to handle these situations as calmly and positively as possible. 

Another good idea when it comes to inventory is to plan out how products will be spread out. Strategic placement is the best way to lessen the possibility of an unruly crowd. It also makes the shopping experience better for shoppers, which often translates to a better working experience for employees as well. 

Managers can also take another look at their checkout lanes. Is there a way to make them wider so shoppers don’t block the way of other customers? Perhaps there is another way to approach the checkout experience at the register. This is the perfect time to ask cashiers for their input. 

6. Provide Incentives

Incentives are always a great way to keep staff motivated and happy. Luckily, there are many ways you can do this: for instance, by providing food. Store owners could offer a special treat like cake or opt for a full-on dining experience like a buffet. Catering can be especially nice when all the local restaurants or fast food joints are already filled with hungry shoppers taking a break from bargain hunting.

Besides food, managers can also hand out gift cards to coffee shops or restaurants for the employees who ring up the most sales or get the best customer feedback. They can also offer higher overtime pay for those who opt to take it. 

If managers would prefer not to encourage competition among their staff, they can simply introduce a raffle for high-ticket items at the end of the day. One of the most important things to remember is to keep the incentives light and fun. 

7. Be on Deck

Black Friday is no time to create a gap between managers and employees. Managers should aim to be just as present on Black Friday as their staff members are. That includes being on the floor, handling customer inquiries, helping with restocking, and managing the crowd when needed. If managers see a negative situation developing, they should be available to step in and diffuse any possible confrontations. Doing so can help employees feel more relaxed and secure, knowing they have backup. 

8. Consider Post-Black Friday Operations

For many retailers, the Black Friday experience doesn’t end once the shop closes. Many customers also take part in Cyber Monday deals. Retailers should plan for a smooth operation online just as they would in-store. They can consider which promotions they’ll push online and train the designated staff to handle online orders as well. This includes answering phone inquiries from any customers who encounter issues with their purchases on the web. 

Beyond Cyber Monday, managers should also consider seasonal workers and their schedules. Things tend to slow down after the Black Friday season, and seasonal workers should know how their schedule will look until their employment period ends. Waiting to provide this information can cause more headaches and delays that can stress out workers. 

How Can Resourcing Edge Help?

Fortunately, retailers don’t have to take on Black Friday alone — Resourcing Edge is here to help. An industry leader in human capital management, Resourcing Edge can provide the exact HR resources businesses need to ensure a smooth (and successful) shopping holiday.

Resourcing Edge offers customized solutions that meet a company’s unique needs. This ensures a smoother and more timely execution of services that manage pain points, particularly during the busy seasons. By taking on administrative tasks, we free up your time and energy so you can focus on the bigger-picture goals of your organization. 

Researching Edge can also help onboard Black Friday staff, providing:

  • Job description development
  • Development and production of employee handbooks
  • New-hire reporting
  • Hiring (and termination) assistance
  • Verification of employment
  • Federal and state compliance management

On a broader scale, compliance services will ensure companies are complying with local and federal employment laws. This includes Federal and State compliance management, as well as EEOC claims management. The last thing a business needs on the busiest day of the year is a compliance issue that takes up valuable time and money.

Researching Edge can also provide a performance management system for an additional fee. This system can help track the performance of employees during this pivotal time of year. 

Make This Black Friday Your Best Yet

For some, the thought of Black Friday conjures feelings of stress, burnout, or even a lack of motivation. However, by implementing helpful and positive HR practices, you can make your employees feel secure and heard during their workday, motivating them to do their best. In the end, it all comes down to treating staff right  — including showing appreciation when it’s most needed. 

If the prospect of the holiday season seems overwhelming, don’t stress over it. Instead, get in touch with Resourcing Edge today.

Jami Beckwith
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