Meeting customer demand this Christmas – at what cost?

Christmas - the most wonderful time of the year. However, many employees are experiencing long hours, tight deadlines, and soaring stress levels.

We all know Christmas is coming and like any other year the festive season is creating a colossal surge in demand for a multitude of organisations. Seasonal peaks are often met through employing agency staff and temporary workers as well as relying on overtime. However, such solutions can lead to untrained and unqualified staff being utilised, with fatigue and stress leading to errors and accidents. Furthermore, such mechanisms can result in huge overtime bills which reduce profitability, and poor work-life balance for employees.

Following the Christmas peak is the January lull with reduced demand and wasted labour as a result! It could all be so different; more full-time jobs could be created, investment in training maintained, greater productivity and service levels could be achieved and labour wastage could become a thing of the past. The answer lies in carefully analysing the demand for labour and identifying if, when and why it changes throughout the year. Having labour resources that are flexible and responsive to the needs of the employer and the marketplace ensures that demand is met without the need for agency staff, temporary workers or overtime.

Kevin WhiteKevin White, Managing Director at Working Time Solutions Limited said: “Too often, the demands made on an organisation fluctuate throughout the year, but the ways in which time and resources are applied never change giving the same weekly hours day after day, week after week, month after month, regardless of need and levels of demand. Organisations that experience seasonal peaks require a rostering methodology dynamic enough to be able to allocate staff based on predicted demand and make provision for unexpected variations and staff requests while focussing on acceptable service levels, and work and leisure time patterns that enhance quality of life for everyone”.

Last week, Amazon UK reported ‘Cyber Monday’ as the busiest shopping day in its history racking up 4.1m sales during the day. These figures were released shortly after a BBC Investigation into working conditions at Amazon warehouses. Employees are expected to work under ‘unbelievable pressure’ in ‘slave camp’ conditions, walking up to 11 miles during a night shift. Unacceptable peak time working conditions are replicated in factories and warehouses across the country at this time of year making health and safety risks a serious threat.

However, many advanced industrial and logistics operators now utilise ways of working such as demand-led shift patterns and annual hour contracts. These working patterns flex with demand and cover the business needs without recourse to peripheral labour in its various forms.

Working Time Solutions is the largest and longest established workforce planning solutions provider in the UK. We offer consultation advicespecialist services and software solutions to enable organisations to implement working time change. Such applications transform organisations through improving workforce productivity, profitability and flexibility. Changes in demand are met, dependency on overtime and agency is drastically reduced and employees have much more flexibility about when they work.