Posted on by Jessica Peaty

How to avoid HR disasters over the Christmas period

If you work or have worked in retail and/or hospitality, you’ve most likely got one or two horror stories about how stressful the Christmas period is. The dreaded Black Friday sales rush, the countless Christmas parties, special offers and promotions and of course, the torrent of customers gift shopping for their kids, relatives and themselves! Not to mention HR nightmares like poorly trained staff, inaccurate payroll and mismanagement of working hours.

Pair this with the long hours workers are often expected to put in and the stress of having to manage hundreds of customers a day. Poor management of these situations can and often will lead to unwanted HR disasters. In this blog we’re going to address the most common of these and how you can avoid them.

Poor staff management

Poor management of your staff over the Christmas period has many symptoms. It could be any combination of too few staff working too many hours, or vice versa. Workers going unpaid, managers getting too heated with their staff for mistakes, however trivial or severe. It could be a case of your more diligent staff workers falling ill or not getting the hours they’re entitled to.

In the run-up to any Christmas period, it’s imperative that all workplaces within the hospitality and retail industries decide every detail ahead of time. Selima’s HR and payroll software solutions allow for complete control over rota management and staff hours, leaving virtually no room for error as everything is digitally backed up.

Do you need to take on more staff?

If you’re expecting to be busy over the holidays, having too few staff could grind your business to a halt. Considering new staff in advance of the season is always beneficial, and taking on new hires is arguably easier at this time of year than any other…

“Christmas temps” are a common employment option during the winter months, and there are very few drawbacks to employing them. Temps can be an excellent bolster to your workforce over the Christmas period, and the temporary nature of the contract generally means they’ll be low maintenance in terms of wanting holidays. They can also become valuable members of your team and you may be encouraged to keep them on once the season dies down.

Just ensure you’re taking on the right amount of staff; if you’re already short staffed, hiring more experienced workers for the season may be a safer option, as opposed to training a group of people who have possibly never worked within the industry before.

Don’t rush training new hires!

Any novices to the job will need to be properly trained. This should never be an afterthought, or something you take a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” mentality for. Poorly trained staff very often leads to upset customers and a falling out between management and employees. Train any new starters and ensure they enjoy or at least don’t mind the work they’re doing.

Proper training also ensures staff members on a particular shift are all on the same page, with less chance of a communication breakdown that could lead to costly mistakes. This creates a friendlier, more productive and potentially more enjoyable work environment for all involved.

Our software has a fully developed training suite allowing you to set up courses and events for new starters. You may also set a rota for specific training periods and allow employees to access training by their own devices.

Keep your payroll in order

No one likes being underpaid during one of the busiest seasons of the year, but it does happen, and it’s easily one of the chief griefs of working the Christmas period. Get all your new starters on payroll as quickly as possible, and remember to have a record kept of any overtime, extra bank holiday pay, absences, bonuses and so on.

It may sound silly to warn about payroll errors in 2016 but they do still happen, and more frequently than business owners may want to admit. This is because many businesses, particularly restaurants and clubs, still rely on paper systems for their payroll.

This is risky because (while still providing hard copies for easy reference should the need arise) they can be easily lost, and there may not necessarily be a backup for them. This then wastes tons of time, energy and paper.


Let’s end on a positive note. Working the busy Christmas period can be a great (if stressful) experience for both employees and managers. It can teach people to better work under pressure, and minimise the impact of any mistakes. At Selima we’ve worked hard to develop the most efficient HR & payroll software on the market, making staff and payroll management remarkably simple. This then frees up managers to be more hands-on with both staff and customers, and with a 99.98% payroll accuracy is an excellent companion to see your business successfully through the busy winter season.

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