6 Tips to Keep Retail Employees Healthy During the Holidays

Keeping Retailers Healthy During Christmas

Cold and Flu Retailers
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As a Texan, you might not think that the weather changes much during the busiest retail shopping time of the year, but no matter where you live, there is a change in the weather after Thanksgiving. (True, for some of you it is only 1 degree.) This colder weather signals the start of cold and flu season and as a retail store owner, there could not be a worse time to have your employees out sick then December.

It costs you payroll dollars and more importantly, lost productivity on the sales floor. An employee with a cold will never sell as much as a healthy employee. 

Here are six tips to help keep your employees (and customers) healthy this season:

  1. Hand Sanitizer. The checkout counter is a magnet for germs, it seems; especially if you handle a lot of cash. Make sure you have plenty for the season. And make sure it is antibacterial. Many products are good for making your hands smell pretty, but they offer no protection. Make it a rule for your employees to get a "shot" after every few customers. Have two bottles — one for the employees and one for the customers. I've always been impressed with Chickfila for stocking Purel hand sanitizer wipes by the kids play area. We use them every time we visit. And, as a parent, it makes me feel like the company truly cares about my kids.
  2. Flu Shots. In my store, we used to pay for the flu shot for the employees. I even worked a "barter" trade with our local pharmacist so it only cost me some merchandise versus real cash. This practice also made the employees feel valued by our store. 
  1. Bathrooms. Germs spread fast. Make sure your bathroom also has hand sanitizer and not just soap. And make sure the paper towels are always stocked. Double the frequency in which you check the bathrooms. After all, if you are seeing twice the customers, your bathrooms should get dirty twice as fast.  
  1. Control Schedules. Make sure that you do not schedule your employees to close the store on Monday night and open the store Tuesday morning if possible — especially if it is a full day shift. We always tried to make sure that the open and close of the store was handled by different crews. This was hard to do with college students and part-time employees and didn't always work, but we made the attempt. You can at minimum control the weekend shifts. Closing Friday night and then opening Saturday morning does not make for a very happy employee no matter how many lattes you give them. The point here is that when employees feel "run down" or stressed it affects their immune systems. 
  2. Reward Attendance. I remember when I was in school getting an award for perfect attendance. It was a big deal to me. Give a little extra to the employees who make it the whole season and never miss a shift. Tell them upfront that you are doing this. It will encourage them to not call in sick on the day they could work, just don't feel like it. And make it worthwhile, not just cash. 
  3. Water. Keep bottled water handy for the employees. Encourage them to drink plenty of it. It's actually a great idea to offer this as an employee benefit year round, but at least consider it during the holiday selling season. Dehydration affects the immune system and the selling ability of your employees. 

    The bottom line is that any lost employee time during the Holiday selling season costs your store money. While it may not seem like it on paper; it does. And beyond that, if you have to step in and cover for the employee, it costs your health (and perhaps sanity) too. Even if the employee shows up for his or her shift no matter how sick they feel, there is still a cost. Be proactive and be well.