Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Navigating Your Busy Season Demands

This morning I woke up in a beautiful resort in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta.  This will be day two, of a two-day training event. I am delivering the training for senior and middle managers of this company which run a few luxury resorts in the Rockies. They are on the verge of their busy season; tourist season.

Before arriving for the event, I had been well briefed on some of the local challenges.  Being in the hospitality industry comes with its unique sectoral challenges. Some of these challenges are connected to seasonality.  This group of resorts hits high season around the Easter long weekend each year. They will operate at full capacity throughout the entire summer.  Like with so many of our corporate clients these days, this company finds it difficult to recruit and retain good talent to fill its staffing needs for the high season.  In fact, last year, they started the high season about 75 staff short of a full complement.

There are other of our clients that also face seasonality impacts beyond those in hospitality.  An example of another sector is that of tax accounting.  In the early part of each year, these firms doing tax returns end up under a great deal of pressure.

Both of these sectors have to prepare for the “busy” season and have to face the reality that their work force is going to have to work long and demanding hours for up to three or even four months in a row.

The seasonal demands in these kinds of workplaces can have a major impact on employee wellness. During this seasonal workload there tends to be a high level of stress associated with the intense demands and the long hours.  Navigating this reality can be very challenging. If this is not well handled, the pressure can result in absenteeism and turnover.  Solving the people problem in a comprehensive way is far beyond the scope of this short blog, but we do know about several things that can help reduce the stress and long-term negative impact of high demand seasons in the workplace.

Actions for a leader to consider during busy season

  1. ktc_iconRemind your team you are well aware of what is coming and how challenging it is going to be.
  2. Ensure absolute role clarity for every team member – where each person’s accountabilities begin and end.
  3. Develop a plan to ensure regular recognition and reward for consistent high performance.
  4. Provide team members the opportunity to contribute ideas on how to mitigate against the risk of burnout.
  5. Encourage your staff to intentionally build around them a strong support network of friends and family.
  6. Clearly define what the team will not be expected to do, giving permission for people to have limits.
  7. Plan for a meaningful celebration at the end of the season – make it matter!

Cameron’s Call to Action

  1. If you knowingly have significant seasonal demands that create significant extra pressure on your team, implement all of the above actions.
  2. If you don’t believe this applies to your workplace, consider opening up a dialogue with staff about this topic. You might actually find out that there are particularly demanding time periods you were not even aware of, that are impacting your front line workers.

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and creating psychologically healthy workplaces.