3 Simple Strategies for Frontline Employers to Do More with Less This Holiday Season

Engagement and productivity strategies to make sweet music this holiday season

October 4, 2023

Increased consumer demand, seasonal hires, an uptick in time off requests – the holiday season is just around the corner. How are you planning to do more with less this holiday season?


Unfortunately, employers are navigating the season with mixed economic signals – strong consumer spending, low employment, high inflation, and white-collar layoffs and hiring freezes.


As an example, retailers are expected to add only 410,000 seasonal jobs this season, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. That is slightly above the 324,900 workers retailers added in the 2008 holiday season during the financial recession.


This means if you manage a store, restaurant, or hotel, you’ll likely have to figure out ways to do more with less in terms of frontline staff.


To help address these staffing concerns, here are 3 simple strategies frontline employers can implement to do more with less this holiday season.

1. Upskill your team with everboarding

When your management team is taxed, training is often the thing that takes a back seat.


Onboarding is not a once-and-done exercise. Learning opportunities and culture touchpoints should be woven into the weekly frontline operations.


How can you provide ongoing training opportunities? Make your learning bite-sized and mobile. Do not pull employees off the floor for extended periods, and do not make the breakroom computer a training bottleneck — deliver impactful training through your frontline employee communication app.


Consider a regular cadence of five-minute microlearnings to upskill team members and keep them informed. A continual approach to onboarding, called everboarding, will improve employees’ ability to serve your customers.


What does good look like? Last year, a WorkJam customer commended for its knowledgeable associates and industry-leading customer service across its 1,300 retail locations hit the 100 microlearning sessions completed per employee, per year milestone.

2. Unlock the power of real-time employee feedback

Feedback from frontline employees makes operations more agile during the fast-paced holiday season. We all know checking in with employees to get a gauge of what is happening on the ground is valuable for operators, but from the frontline employee’s viewpoint, providing feedback gives a sense of contribution, belonging, and a feeling of being heard.


How can you spare the time to roll out a comprehensive feedback program? The answer is simple: You do not have to roll out a big program!

Use your existing communication app to ask for feedback in targeted communication channels. Take it a step further by sending targeted, bite-sized surveys and polls. Be sure to digitally touch base with employees at key employment milestones. We recommend the first week, then 30-, 60-, and 90-day touch points.


Armed with real-time feedback, location managers and district/regional leaders will be able to make better-informed decisions to boost performance.

3. Increase schedule flexibility

Employees tend to request off work during the holiday season, whether for travel or family obligations. According to Forrester’s recent frontline work study, only 38% of employers provide frontline employees the ability to submit digital time-off requests and less than 50% of frontline employers provide employees visibility and access to open shifts.


These operational inefficiencies leave operators exposed in a tight labor market — and shift coverage only gets worse during the holiday season.


In a recent HR Executive interview, JCPenney’s CHRO explained how schedule flexibility has boosted engagement and retention for its frontline workers.

Empower employees to make autonomous schedule changes. Swapping shifts with co-workers and picking up open shifts in a digital workplace simplifies schedule changes for frontline employees and their managers.


Our customers say managers save two hours a week using WorkJam for shift management. For an organization with 50,000 employees and a 1:20 manager-to-hourly-employee ratio, that equals 65,000 hours — about seven and a half years — a quarter. What could you do with 65,000 extra managerial hours?


With less of the manager’s time going towards schedule management, managers can lead and nurture their seasonal employees.


We have no doubt that your engagement and productivity strategies will make sweet music this holiday season. Happy hiring, happy onboarding, and happy holidays.

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WorkJam is the platform industry leaders choose for true frontline orchestration: task management, training, communications, staffing, and more.