“Ten tips for creating a happy and productive work environment during Valentine’s Day – and other hectic holiday periods.”

Santa’s left the building, and Cupid is knocking at the door. Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day – and other single-day holidays – comes with its own kind of urgency and “energy.” Most customers want their gifts delivered on one day – Feb. 14 – or maybe a day or two earlier, if you can convince them of that! Either way, it’s a lot of business (hopefully) packed into a short period, and the pressure and long hours can create stress for even the most seasoned flower shop staffers.

As it should be during these times, business owners are focused on attracting consumers and providing products and services that will appeal to them. In the process, some owners and managers give less time and attention to their employees – the people who provide the products, services and customer experiences.
So how do you keep productivity and employee spirits positive during holiday periods? How do you relieve holiday-related stress?
Here are 10 tips that can help you create a work environment that will help keep your staff positive, motivated and happy during Valentine’s Day – and all the other hectic floral holidays and occasions coming in the next four or five months.

1. Make a schedule policy, and stick to it. For example, no one gets a day off during the week before Valentine’s Day, including you. If it is slow or you finish a day’s work early, you can always let some employees go early.

2. Offer shorter holiday shifts or flex schedules. Try some creative things like scheduling staffers for six-hour shifts, if you can, or even split shifts. Offering shorter shifts or breaks in the workday help morale and can make for much happier employees.

3. Set daily goals for your store. It doesn’t matter how much they are, but set sales and/or production goals in two parts: daily goals and end-of-holiday goals. Involve employees in the goal-setting process to get their buy-in, and reward them daily for achieving the goals.

4. Target specific products. Set new sales goals daily for either some of your most profitable products or those that are not moving well. Monitor your sales and inventory daily so you know every day which items to target.

5. Develop your sixth sense. During the busiest times, always be present, and have your head up and looking around your store to see who has been waiting a long time, who has a question and so on. Step in, as appropriate, to keep things moving along and reduce customer wait times. Shoppers tend to punish businesses that make them wait.

6. Clearly define expectations. Clear expectations are the most basic of employees’ needs and are vital to performance. In stressful times, job responsibilities often become fuzzy. At some companies, the holidays create an “all hands on deck” scenario; at others, employees need to quickly learn new tasks or cover for other workers. Regardless, make it a point to review priorities and goals with your team members, even if those priorities are constantly shifting. Employees want clearly defined responsibilities, and without them, their engagement can quickly falter.

7. Reinforce your company’s brand promise. Many business owners struggle to teach their employees what their companies stand for and what makes them different from their competitors. Therefore, employees often don’t know how they are supposed to interact with customers, or they view the brand promise as meaningless and, therefore, disregard it. A company’s brand promise serves as a guide for employees, giving them direction in the face of uncertainty. And it can be an especially valuable tool for part-time or seasonal workers who otherwise may feel no real connection to the job or the company.

8. Be generous with recognition. Recognition matters. Business owners/managers must define the behaviors they want to see from their employees, communicate those behaviors and recognize employees when they see those behaviors in action. They also should recognize employees for perfecting their job responsibilities or for excelling at certain tasks, and they should also make a concentrated effort to recognize employees who have a positive impact on customer experience. In addition, they must share the reason for that recognition with other team members. All employees need examples of what it means to “live the brand promise” or go above and beyond for customers.

9. Help them to eat right and stay hydrated. Provide bottled water and light healthy snacks, like fruit or nutrition bars, that employees can drink and eat (free of charge!) throughout their shifts and during their breaks. Also buy them healthy lunches and dinners during the days that are particularly hectic and/or long.

10. Thank your employees at the end of their shifts — every day. Praise and genuine thank-yous can make all the diff erence in the world to employees’ morale during busy holiday times – and every day. You need them as much as they need you, so continually show your appreciation. It’s effective, and it costs you nothing!

Sources: Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor (retaildoc.com); Ed O’Boyle and Amy Adkins, Gallup News Business Journal (news.gallup.com); and Susan Heath field, The Balance (thebalance.com)