Retail employees are under an enormous amount of stress during the holidays, says Richard Feinberg, a consumer psychologist and professor at Purdue University. Unfortunately, each negative interaction with a customer negates 10 positive interactions, allowing a small number of rude consumers to drive down morale and increase stress. However, retailers can win the war by following a few tips that work for both eCommerce and traditional retailers.
Here's five ways retailers can reduce stress during the holidays.
1 | Schedule Stress with Consideration
Due to a combination of factors, including the Affordable Care Act, employers are reluctant to give 35+ hours per week. Holiday hours are the new bonus, leaving employees scrambling to pick up hours. U.S. News reports that unknown hours, canceled shifts, and long hours keeps employees on their toes, but scared and weary. To minimize stress, managers shouldn’t shuffle the schedule on a whim.
2 | Wear Comfortable Clothing for Long Hours
Replacing gel shoe inserts and donning a favorite shirt helps to maintain a good attitude throughout the day. If your company plans to give bonuses, announce it before the biggest rush, so that employees are comfortable sprucing up their work wardrobe.
3 | Follow OSHA’s Crowd Management Guidelines
Traditional retailers can help prevent injuries by following crowd management guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The guidelines recommend careful planning and pre-crowd setup, including hiring additional staff and installing barricades to divert the crowd. Having an emergency plan and a manager designated to make snap decisions is also crucial.
Fortunately, eCommerce retailers aren’t subjected to the same work hazards. But they can still benefit from careful planning before Black Friday; for example, ensuring correct inventory is important to avoiding irate customers and bad reviews. No one wants Christmas spoiled by an email apologizing for inventory errors, or perhaps worse, a substituted product.
4 | Ensure Your Website Can Handle the Traffic
With Cyber Monday on the horizon, consumers expect free shipping, fast delivery, and an easy checkout process. All of this assumes your website can handle much more traffic than normal. Underestimating the number of consumers is guaranteed to end poorly, increasing everyone’s stress. If the website goes down, anywhere from dozens to thousands of people place orders elsewhere. Holiday shoppers are on a strict deadline and, unless you have a truly unique product or service, they won’t wait around. It won’t matter how quickly IT moves to get the servers up again.
5 | Find a Quiet Place to Relax
Perhaps the most difficult part of the holiday rush is the seemingly endless grind paired with looping Christmas music. Professor Feinberg suggests taking small breaks when possible. This will keep your sanity in check and therefore help when dealing with difficult customers.
The holiday rush isn’t the end of the world. Employers should be mindful of their employees when scheduling, and employees should try to remain positive despite the occasional grumpy customer. Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, in addition to looking forward to your year-end bonus, is a great way to stay and maintain a good attitude. A good plan is also key to success for both eCommerce and traditional stores this holiday season.