Though many people look forward to the summer months, it can be a time of panic for companies as their employees want to take lots of time off, often at the same or overlapping times. It can also be the busiest time of the year for some businesses with people shopping for new clothes, summer party food or simply getting out and about more. However, a little planning in advance will go a long way to avoid staffing nightmares at your busiest times, and you can even use the summer months in innovative ways to boost your business.

Here are some ideas for how best to prepare your workforce for summer.

Plan vacations in advance

This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times summer can creep up on a business and suddenly half of your employees are on leave and you are left with too many things to do and not enough people to do them. Without preparation your business and it's employees could potentially suffer.

Asking employees to book their summer vacations well in advance can help you prepare accordingly for the busy period. Having a clear time-off policy so employees know how to request time-off, how much notice you would like them to give you and what restrictions apply will mean fewer scheduling headaches as well as a reduction in lost or last minute requests. It’s also a good idea to remind employees of this policy a few times in the run up to the summer so you give everyone lots of opportunity to book their time-off.

Centralize employee time-off requests

Keep on top of all those time-off requests by having a single system for employees to request days off and you to approve them. You can manage all of your employee’s time-off on your Findmyshift rota, including any sick leave they take. There you can respond to employee’s requests for vacation, view automatically updated individual time-off allowances, and you can access time-off reports, which will tell you who’s off when, and how well staffed you are at your busiest times so you can avoid being stretched too thin. All of these features are included in all of our plans at no additional cost.

Prepare cover if needed

Giving yourself enough time to recruit summer employees is crucial to make sure you get the right people for the job. People start looking for summer work early in the year, so to make sure you get the ‘best of the best’ - start recruiting now!

Focus on a few key tasks

If having a smaller team than usual is unavoidable, don’t worry; you can still keep on top of everything if you have a plan for this outcome. Most importantly, if you don’t have enough employees to do all the work that’s normally done, then scale back and prioritise. Expecting your remaining employees to do double the amount of work is going to lead to unhappy employees and unfair working conditions. Show your team you value their input by involving them in planning daily priorities and asking them what additional duties or hours they can take on during the summer months. It’s also important to consider what projects can be put on hold until your employees all return from vacation.

Become a summer sensation!

It is well known that people spend more when they’re happy and this is good news because sunshine and warmer weather makes people happier! Summer is also a time for lots of local, national and international events. From sporting competitions to music festivals, you should try to see these events as opportunities to help promote your business. Creating fun digital campaigns, seasonal offers or sales promotions to tie in with events can be a great way to get your company noticed and it will boost your company’s image.

Celebrate summer with your employees

Not everyone will be taking their leave during the summer, so celebrating summer with the employees left behind can help make them feel valued rather than bitter for being "stuck at work". Play upbeat music in your workspace and make sure the freezer is stocked with treats for hot days. Encourage your employees to enjoy summer too by organising a picnic lunch or some after work drinks, or perhaps use the good weather to do some outdoor volunteering with a local charity.

Summer can be a really busy time for many businesses, but a little planning and preparation will help make sure your business can continue to run smoothly and successfully.

About the author

Jen Lowthrop is Findmyshift's own all-star writer and a blogger. With more than a decade of experience in volunteer management and marketing, Jen also ran her own local deli/cafe. When not writing for Findmyshift, Jen blogs about her travels at She Gets Around and can be found talking about travel, branding and business on Facebook and Twitter.