MHR: 69% of retail managers find employee absence a problem over the festive period

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With the Christmas rush now in full swing, 69 percent of managers in the retail industry are battling against the problem of unexpected employee absences rocketing during busy seasonal periods compared to a normal working week, reveals a new Censuswide survey on behalf of leading HR and payroll provider MHR.

The survey of 250 managers in the retail and hospitality sectors was commissioned to gain an insight into how they plan employee rosters in the run up to busy periods and cope with seasonal peaks in demand.

It found nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of retail managers believe that employees are more likely to call in sick during busy seasonal periods. This is despite 78 percent believing they have the right number of employees available to cover shifts.

When asked what they would change or implement to better manage the fluctuations in staff requirements caused by seasonal demand, 39 percent said they would hire more permanent people while 13 percent said they would employ more people on zero hours contracts.

Over half (60 percent) of retail managers said that a rise in absences over the busy seasonal period had a negative impact on their profits, with 63 percent admitting that the growth of multichannel online sales has affected their ability to plan accurate shift rotas.

Stuart Price, business analyst at MHR, says: “With Christmas representing the busiest time of the year for the retail sector, managers must optimise their rosters to meet seasonal demand and maintain exceptional customer service, while keeping a firm eye on the bottom line by minimising instances of overstaffing.

“Despite their best efforts to plan ahead it seems managers accept that they are likely to experience a spike in employee absences.

“Most managers would choose to improve their situation by hiring more employees, throwing more money at costly resource, rather than investing in a workforce management system which would enable them to gain valuable insights to create accurate rosters and react promptly to absences the moment they occur.”