For retailers, the emergence of Black Friday has been a major sales booster, taking what began in the USA, with Americans traditionally spending Thanksgiving eating and drinking with family and friends, and then heading to the shops – and the sales – the following day.
Now, it’s a global phenomenon, with retailers in the UK having to gear up for Black Friday almost as much as their counterparts across the Atlantic. In logistics, it’s a key time and the onus is on warehouse pickers and packers, and on delivery drivers, to help employers get orders out on time. For those in retail, it can be stressful for those on the shop floor, dealing with heavy footfall and the potential of angry and disappointed shoppers who miss out on the bargain they were looking for.
But how can businesses protect their Black Friday employees, faced with one of the busiest few days in the calendar, and ensure their mental health and wellbeing aren’t affected by the pressure to fulfil a volume of orders that is usually only seen in the pre-Christmas rush?
And how can the employees themselves prepare themselves physically and mentally for one of the craziest times of the year.
Logistics is a round-the-clock sector, and most workers will be familiar with the variety of shift patterns and, at times, long hours. But in the run-up to Black Friday it’s important to find out early what will be expected of you and what your shifts will be.
Be ready for the rush, but bear in mind that there are regulations about working times and statutory breaks that should not be ignored just because the pressure is on. If you’re a temporary worker, make sure your introduction to the role covers everything you need to know about what you will need to do, where you will need to be, who is in charge, and what to do if you get to a point where you simply can’t cope.
A good recruitment company will help with the onboarding, giving you all the information and support you may need so that you don’t feel you’ve been thrown in at the deep end.
It’s a tough time to be running a warehouse or fleet of drivers. The retailers are offering not-to-be-missed offers and the customers are desperate to grab a bargain and have their goods with them within the promised time.
Be realistic about the team you need. Temporary workers are pretty much indispensable at peak times and it pays to start the process early to ensure you have enough people in place to keep the organisation running smoothly.
Speak to your recruitment provider well ahead of Black Friday about numbers. Temporary workers with relevant experience may well be available and that can make all the difference to the process. Make sure you cover all the regulations about working hours and pay attention to the needs of staff. It is going to be stressful, and a worker who is unhappy with what they are expected to do is more likely to suffer physical problems or mental health issues, potentially leading to absenteeism at key times, and a reluctance to return.
Remember, Black Friday is really the opening gate for the pre-Christmas rush and post-Christmas sales, so having a happy healthy workforce who’ll give their best from November through to January is a major positive.
A good working relationship with a recruitment agency can also help find staff to cover unforeseen absences, or an unexpectedly large workload, so communication is key to finding more personnel to get you through.
An increase in demand means that wages can often become unrealistic, so careful planning and the support of a recruitment agency to help avoid the hugely inflated rates that companies with almost inevitably have to pay if they need to resort to last-minute panic recruitment.
On both sides, planning, negotiation and preparation are key to making sure both sides are happy – which results in happy clients and customers and another successful Black Friday.
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