3 Tips for Managing Employees During the Holidays

Posted on December 20, 2016 by Michelle Locke

The holidays can be tough, for managers, owners and operators, and employees alike. It’s a stressful time of year, one where we want to be with our families, but with gift exchanges, holiday get-togethers, and more, money can be tight. The stores are busy and so are restaurants. You need all employees on deck, but your employees would rather be anywhere else. Add in a heaping scoop of bad weather and you have a recipe for employees that are always teetering on the edge of calling in.

Managing employees at times like these—when everything seems to be working against good employee morale—can be a challenge. But we have a few tips.

1. Offer Support & Understanding

Here’s a hypothetical situation: your best server is a young mom who is also in school. The weather is bad, the power is threatening to go out at her house, she has to leave her child with a babysitter when she comes into work. Add in other variables, like an ill child or a late babysitter, and it gets more complicated.

It’s not a pleasant situation for her and calling out would be understandable. But if she doesn’t, she shows up anyway but is in a bad mood, offer her support. The first rule as a manager is to understand that employees are humans: they have good and bad days. Yes, that should be left at the door of your restaurant, but it’s not always that easy.

If your normally stellar employee is having a rough day, do what you can to make it better: give them a slower section, help them with their side work, or take them aside and thank them for coming in.

These little things will go a long way towards improving employee morale.

2. Help Them Handle Difficult Customers

Patience runs thin the closer we get to Christmas. You can see it at the mall, driving on the highway, or just running to the grocery store. People’s nerves are frayed and it shows.

If a difficult customer comes to your restaurant, take over for servers or bartenders—or simply assist them. And as always, understand both sides. Support your employees first and they will better be able to support guests.

3. Make Things Fun

It’s the holiday season! Let employees celebrate. Bring in cookies or treats; put up decorations together; organize a small gift exchange. Whatever you think your employees will enjoy, and that will make the restaurant atmosphere just a little more jolly, go for it.