Love it or loathe it, Black Friday is almost upon us.
In case you have been living under a rock, the day doesn’t mark a solar eclipse. Black Friday is an American import – the day after Thanksgiving, dedicated to major retail sales which signals the start of Christmas shopping.
Some serious discounts get shoppers whipped up into a frenzy – cue riots outside supermarkets as people clash trying to get hold of a flat screen TV on the cheap. Research by GoCompare suggests UK shoppers are going to spend £3 billion on Black Friday 2017.
If you are a retailer, Black Friday is likely to be one day you do not have any productivity issues with staff. They will probably be rushed off their feet. But for businesses in other sectors, you may have real issues. Staff surfing the web looking for bargains, employees busy trying to coordinate delivery slots and even people throwing sickies so they can hit the high street.
If you have concerns, the good news is that you will have tactics at your disposal to counter any wayward behaviour. Better still you can tailor your approach to the culture of your business. We will share some good practice that you can adopt whether you run a tight ship or you prefer a more relaxed approach.
The strict approach
You’ll probably have some policies that were born for days like Black Friday – An internet usage policy, a disciplinary policy…even sickness and holiday policies may be called upon to manage authorised and unauthorised absence. (If you don’t have these, please call us so we can help you get them in place).
Before the day, send out a staff email reminding people of your internet policy and that they run the risk of disciplinary procedures if they breach it. If you want the option of monitoring employee internet use, it is wise to give them advance notice to avoid encroaching on their privacy. We recently blogged about a shift in the courts in the employee’s favour on monitoring electronic communications.
A rash of sickness absence might break out. Employees might think they can blag a day of retail therapy over the phone. Be prepared to run back-to-work interviews when they return. They will find it more difficult to maintain a deception face-to-face. You can even look out for tell-tale social media posts that give away a shopping spree.
The flexible approach
The strict approach will be right for some businesses, but others may want to be more accommodating this Black Friday. If you have some crazy shoppers on your payroll, you could softly suggest they take a day’s holiday to let them get their fix.
If that is not an option, or they do not want to use a day of their allowance, you could allow staff to alter break times like lunch to match their spending opportunities. You could even permit some flexitime for them to get their shopping done on the proviso that they make it up before or after.
Whichever approach you choose, it is important to be consistent. Pursuing one member of staff for breaching internet policy when others were doing so too could leave you open to accusations of discrimination. The same goes for offering flexible breaks too. Ensure all staff are treated the same.
We are here to help. Whether Black Friday shows you it’s time to get some proper written policies, or you need to discipline an employee who couldn’t control their shopping habits, give us a call.