8 secrets to managing staff over hectic periods

3rd April 2019

For many entrepreneurs, the stresses of running a business hit harder during holiday periods. With Easter approaching, we found a few ways to stay on top of things when the pressure’s on, especially when it comes to managing staff.

Ask employees to plan ahead

In any holiday period, there will be days that most people want off. Encourage your staff to plan ahead and put leave requests in early. That way, you can allocate in a way that’s fair – both on them and your business.

Communication is key and it works both ways. If there’s a red zone in the calendar where you need all hands on deck, let your team know in advance. It’s crucial to manage expectations.


If your business has more than a handful of employees, it might be time to consider software to help you manage your team. Tracking your employees’ time increases productivity and accountability.

Compromising is also important. If giving an employee a full day off isn’t an option, maybe a half day is a fair way to meet in the middle.

First come, first served

If you can only afford to give one employee time off and two people request it, the person that asked first should get it. Emergencies and unforeseen circumstances aside. Not only is this fair, but it also incentivises employees to plan in advance to get the time off they want, giving you more time to be prepare for hectic periods.

Make time to step away

You also work for your company. You also have family, friends and other personal responsibilities. You need time off too. But as a business owner, it can be hard to step away during holidays. Try creating alternative holidays for yourself. That way, you can work on the most demanding days and spend valuable time with your family when the pressure isn’t as high.

Embrace remote work

If your business doesn’t require everyone to be on-site all the time, consider allowing work-from-home days during hectic periods. This requires trust. But if your employees are reliable then it’s a great solution. It affords them the freedom to run quick errands or deal with personal admin without a huge drop off in productivity.

And with communication tech only getting better, remote work is becoming more prominent all over the world.

Strength in flexibility

Work doesn’t have to happen within the 9-5. During busy times, flexibility may be the compromise your employees (and your business) need.

For example, it might suit someone to come in at 6 and leave by 2. Or maybe they’d prefer to start late and leave late, opening up a part of their day to take care of personal stuff.

Your business gets the standard number of hours from employees, but the employee can choose hours that suit their own needs too.

Reward the grind

There are certain days that everyone wants off. To ensure you aren’t choosing between rejecting leave requests and being short-staffed, incentivise employees to work on those undesirable days.

Offer your staff overtime. It’s usually 150% of their earnings. So if their salary equates to R100/hour, pay them R150/hour on those days they’d rather be with friends and family.

If cash flow is an issue, you can offer them extra leave days during a less stressful period.

At the end of the day, people want to feel rewarded and appreciated. This doesn’t always have to be incredibly expensive. Providing dinner for staff working late, for example, is a small token of thanks that will always be appreciated.

Have part-timers or freelancers you can trust

Having capable people in reserve is always a good idea. They can boost your team during hectic holiday periods when you need more hands on deck.

Students are often hungry for real-world working experience. Many would jump at the chance to do a paid ‘holiday internship’ while certain members of your staff take leave.

Tools can help

If your business has more than a handful of employees, it might be time to consider software to help you manage your team. Tracking your employees’ time increases productivity and accountability.

Capterra has put together a useful list of attendance tracking tools, allowing you to easily see what features they offer and how they can help you manage your employees’ time effectively. Many of these software companies also offer free trials. Business.com have also listed their favourite employee performance tools.