Holiday staffing is always challenging and today even more so with a shortage of workers in the market, managing remote work, quiet quitting and productivity concerns, cold/flu season, and higher wages due to inflation. How your company manages absences and staffing beginning in October through December will get your company through 2022 and help you plan for 2023. Using your WFM tools from Pipkins can provide greater accuracy in forecasts and keep under- and over-staffing in check. This accuracy is all important if 25 to 30 percent of annual sales occur during the holiday season. For companies that rely heavily on ecommerce/catalog sales, it seems paramount that workers receive enough time off so their morale does not suffer – a balancing act when they want off during the busiest time of the year.
Communication is the key to keeping morale in check. Make sure agents understand what to expect before time — lower PTO approvals, for example. Remind them that the peak season will not last forever and encourage agents to postpone their time off until then. This method of communication should keep call in’s and NCNS from happening. A temporary voluntary layoff might also be something agents can look forward to especially if they have worked a lot of overtime.
Some steps to get your company through 2022:
Import of each agent’s PTO eligibility for the year
2022 action – a direct import from your company’s HR or personnel system is best for maximum efficiency. Don’t forget about importing any FMLA eligibility states. If you have a “wait list” be sure and clean it up by discarding requests from those no longer working for the company or no longer eligible for PTO.
2023 reflection – Were employees getting the time off they need to remain positive and productive? Did you find remote or in-office staff requesting more time off for sickness? If so, what does that tell you? How can you better handle intermittent FMLA days? Will switching shifts help? Split-shifts?
Different vacation parameters for different times of the year
2022 action – based on your corporate policy, including the total number of weeks off that can be taken during certain periods of the year, and how many of those weeks can be taken consecutively.
2023 reflection – Do you need more incentives to get employees to take time off earlier in the year? Did employees take off enough time or did you notice a change in morale? Could long weekends, as opposed to full weeks, be a possible solution? How about split shifts – could they be the answer? Be sure and identify any Covid obstructions that may have interfered with the vacation parameters.
2022 action – establish certain days of the year when no vacation time can be taken, such as during major promotion periods; i.e., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., when every available seat in the contact center must be filled to handle anticipated workload.
2023 reflection – Did the blackout periods work or was there an increase of people calling in sick or NCNS? Was your overtime planning effective?
PTO bidding and automatic, rules-based vacation request approvals, OR allocation of vacation slots by agent group
2022 action – identify the method supervisors prefer to use. If using shift bidding, identify how they bid for preferred vacation dates: (1) allocated manually, (2) based on pre-established policies such as seniority, or (3) on a first come-first-serve basis. Allocation of PTO time by agent group prevents too many agents (1) with the same skill sets, (2) in the same contact center or (3) in some other group category, from taking vacations simultaneously.
2023 reflection – Which method was chosen and how well did it work? What problems, if any, do you need to focus on correcting?
Establish limits for advance booking of PTO requests
2022 action – To help equalize PTO opportunities, you may wish to permit only full weeks to be booked more than 3 months in advance, and single days or partial days no more than four weeks in advance.
2023 reflection – What limits were established? Do those limits need to be tweaked?
Reflecting on 2022 and Planning for 2023
It is our hope that everyone has a successful 2022. However, be sure and examine what made it successful and identify any bumps along the road that could be changed in 2023. Finally, don’t forget the importance of overtime planning during the holiday season.
It is election time once again. Every state has some rules employers must abide by regarding voting time. Make sure you know what they are . . . and don’t forget to find out the rules for remote employees too! Pipkins scheduling and absence manager should be able to help you stay compliant. Vote wisely!