With December just a few weeks away, Christmas is coming into focus for most of us. The increased number of social events, the shopping, the planning for catering, travel and more, as well as all the end-of-year events.
Small businesses are in a unique position at this time of year to offer both their staff and their customers a more unique and high-quality experience of engaging with them than big businesses can.
Small business staff are often dedicated and hard-working, preferring the more personalised service and engagement that comes with working in a small team, knowing the CEO or business owner, and knowing the customers.
Small businesses often succeed or fail based on the quality of their staff, because of this close engagement with customers.
That’s why we encourage business owners to think about the needs of their staff at this time of year. A little generosity and understanding can go a long way in adding buoyancy to tired, busy staff during the silly season.
We’ve heard of businesses who:
- Offer staff extra time off for Christmas shopping or to attend their children’s end-of-year events…an early Christmas bonus that rarely impacts the business that greatly but means a lot to staff trying to juggle work/life commitments.
- Have extra, or higher quality/volume, of snacks or treats in the office, particularly when longer hours or busier hours are part of the business at this time of year.
- Dinner vouchers, Uber vouchers or other relevant gifts that make longer and busier hours possible and achievable, whilst supporting other local community businesses and workers.
If these are not relevant or possible for your business, even offering a daily morning coffee round from the local café in the weeks leading up to Christmas can be a welcome and appreciated bonus.
And remember, Christmas can be a difficult time for some individuals. Mental health issues can flare if people feel alone, or are facing an anniversary of a death in the family, or other such triggering memories.
Businesses will do well to remain aware of these possibilities, reminding staff of any workplace mental health programs that may be available, or simply mentioning these things in meetings as a general statement, reminding staff that they are appreciated and matter to the company, and the HR or management are always available to talk, if need be.
Much like staff, customers are also busy, and trying to push more to-do list items into each day.
We encourage small businesses to spend some brainstorming time, being creative with ideas that might surprise and delight customers, giving small but welcome relief to their otherwise harried days.
Whether it’s providing coffee or some treats for customers who may need to wait, offering small extra services, like carrying purchases to the car or offering gift wrapping, such things can change a customer’s mood for the better and leave them loving your business.
If these types of small changes aren’t possible, encouraging staff to offer extra warm welcomes, or filling the customer contact areas with sweet scents, like cinnamon or peppermint, can lift the mood of your business and help customers love their experience of your business.
For the broader community
One final way small businesses can have a big impact at Christmas is their direct involvement in charity work. Offering staff the option of volunteering for a charity at this time of year can help your staff feel more inspired and energised, it can help raise your business profile and give staff extra reason to love their employer, and it offers great community assistance at a time when many people struggle financially and call on charities for help.
We send you, your staff and your customer the best of wishes this holiday season and look forward to sharing the challenges and victories of 2022 together as businesses of the Georges River region.