Motivating your employees in busy times

5th December 2018

It’s summer time. The sun’s here, people are out and about and visitors are arriving in their millions. From our research we’ve learnt that businesses in South Africa see double the amount of new customers, both local and international, during the festive season – which is great news for your business!

With this increase in traffic, it’s likely that you will need to hire additional staff, and your existing team members might need to work more hours to help over the busy period. It’s very easy for staff to become indifferent when there’s chaos, beautiful weather and cocktails are calling – so motivation is key.

With this in mind, here are some tips to help your team stay happy and motivated over the festive period.

Training new staff while things are busy

It’s great to hire additional staff to help ease the workload and keep efficiency up. However, do keep in mind that taking in a lot of new information and learning the ropes in a busy environment can be challenging.

Set aside dedicated time when it’s quiet to show them how things are done, perhaps before you open for the day. This little bit of extra effort can really pay off in the long run. Have a checklist to make sure you don’t leave anything out and go through each item thoroughly, from where the bathrooms are to how your point of sale system works.

It’s also useful to help them understand and love your product as much as you do. Let them know what’s special about it and offer them freebies if you can afford it.

Create a welcoming, fun space

Let’s be honest, no matter how dedicated you are to your job, working during summer while your friends and family are on holiday can get you down at times. This can seriously affect happiness and morale levels.

Make the work atmosphere welcoming and do activities to encourage teamwork and that motivate your employees. The more the work environment is a place that your team enjoy coming to, the less they will wish they were on holiday.

It’s important to lead by example. Some things to try are:

  • Encourage everyone to be themselves and give permission to have fun.
  • Be community-minded. Build friendships and connections with the team, and encourage them to do the same with each other.
  • Play upbeat music.
  • Plan team activities such as dress-up days or competitions.
The baristas at Colombo Coffee.

Prepare your team for what’s to come

When things get really busy it’s easy to get stressed quickly and confusion can set in. To avoid unnecessary chaos, make sure your team is well-equipped to deal with anything.

Set expectations

Having clear schedules and outlining exactly what is expected of your team is helpful. It’s important that this is not a one way speech but rather an open conversation with room for input and adjustment.

Prepare for language barriers

South Africa has 11 official languages. Add to that the combination of languages from all over the world that comes with tourism season, and you have a lot of information to process! Your team may experience some frustration in communicating, especially when things are busy and tensions are high.

Encourage your team to be patient and to double check the customer’s understanding. If they are unsure whether a customer has understood them, a good solution is to confirm by phrasing the question differently or asking the customer to repeat back what’s being communicated.
Make sure everyone on the team knows the languages that the others can speak, so that they know who to call to assist in different situations.

Combat exhaustion

Putting in extra hours and being busy can really take it out of you, especially if you’re on your feet all day. Making taking breaks a part of the company culture can help with fatigue and burnout. We know that when things are crazy it can seem a bit counter-intuitive but regular breaks make for happier, more productive employees. You can read about the science behind it in this article.

Show gratitude

Thank a team member for something they were not expecting praise for, and encourage everyone to do the same. Colombo Coffee uses a great tool called Hi5, which allows you to congratulate those who go the extra mile or do great work, live and in real time.

“For example, if Bryce goes above and beyond delivering an order on the last minute he gets a Hi5. The winner every month gets a prize in the form of a Gateway shopping voucher,” says Geoff Noble of Colombo Coffee.

Bonuses and rewards

A bonus or reward for your team’s hard work is also good for happiness levels. If you have enough budget, a monetary bonus is great. If not, find other ways such as gifts or extra days off in the new year.

Take time to celebrate

From small successes to big wins, taking time to celebrate as a team is good for bonding and team morale. A team social event is a a way for everyone to let loose and celebrate the hard work that has been done.