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Making Room for Flexibility Amid a Busy Summer Season

Hospitality businesses should expect many people to continue with their leisure plans undeterred, putting pressure on their teams to deliver quality service under high demand.
happy diners drinking cocktails
With the right combination of technology, communication and careful planning, hospitality businesses can let their teams kick back while still catering to the summer crowds.
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In the hospitality industry, the “summer boom” refers to more than just the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Schools are out, vacation days are booked, and people are filling their extra leisure time with shopping, dining and traveling, leading to heightened demand in areas popular with tourists. With this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the hospitality sector is hiring the most new employees this summer, according to data from ADP Research Institute. 

While heat waves have actually depressed demand at the start of summer 2024, businesses should expect many people to continue with their leisure plans undeterred, putting pressure on their teams to deliver quality service under high demand. No one feels this squeeze more acutely than small businesses, who define the personality and charm of our country’s countless leisure destinations.

There are certainly times when teams need all hands on deck for a rush of customers. But small business employees also deserve the flexibility to make their own summer plans. Fortunately, with the right combination of technology, communication and careful planning, business owners can let their teams kick back while still catering to the summer crowds.

Better Communication = More Flexibility

At small businesses, owners and employees work shoulder to shoulder – according to a Homebase survey, 62% of small business owners and 64% of hourly workers ranked “relationships with coworkers” as their number one contributing factor for loving their jobs.

However, working shoulder-to-shoulder doesn’t always mean working hand-in-hand. Poor team communication hinders the collaboration required to meet demand – at all times, but especially during a seasonal surge. If employees can’t communicate their needs, they’ll often grow frustrated and become increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs. Preventing this dissatisfaction is exceedingly crucial in an industry where an employee’s attitude can make or break the customer experience – and in the case of tipped labor, may impact a team member’s overall pay. 

Flexibility is a proven weapon against burnout and discontent. However, the potential for increased flexibility may be locked behind the same communication barriers that are making employees so frustrated.

Managing employee schedules through a rigamarole of texts, calls and emails makes it nearly impossible for businesses to accommodate employees’ schedule preferences and shift swaps. These practices are also extremely time-consuming, leading to more back-office work that takes team leaders away from the heart of their business. 

To improve communication, small businesses should streamline workforce correspondence through a single convenient app. Ideally, this will be the same app they use for other team management functions, like scheduling and timekeeping. With everything in one place, it becomes easier to see the opportunities for flexibility, and teams will feel more empowered to ask for it. 

Tackle Stress with Better Tech

Smarter communication tools work best when coupled with technology that creates schedules in line with business priorities and worker preferences. But with so many small businesses still relying on paper processes to manage team schedules, making the leap to automated software can be daunting. 

Here are a few helpful features to look out for when adopting a scheduling software:

  • Predictive Scheduling: Software that can help predict demand ahead of time makes it easier to prepare for the peaks of the busy season. 
  • Auto-scheduling: Smart scheduling based on employee availability and predicted demand can help businesses better accommodate their employees’ personal lives while solving other potential busy season woes, like overtime costs or even potential compliance violations. 
  • Monitoring Tools: Keeping track of hours and PTO ensures everyone on a team has equal access to the benefits of flexibility.
  • Communications Integrations: It’s one thing to create schedules – it’s another to make sure it gets into every employee’s hands. Delivering schedules through existing communications channels will lead to fewer missed shifts, as well as easy shift-swapping and pickup. Better yet, consider an all-in-one app that consolidates scheduling and team communications from the start.

In addition to enabling more flexible scheduling, schedule automation can also reduce workloads across the business, so taking a day off won’t feel so overwhelming. 

Prioritize Wellbeing 

How small businesses respond to surges in demand will leave a lasting impression on their teams. When customers come flooding in and the pressure heats up, do workers feel supported, or abandoned? Can they still bring their best selves to work – the very thing that will help them connect with customers – or will they be burnt out? 

82% of hourly workers reported being happy in their roles when they feel fulfilled, and having adequate time to recharge is a vital component of fulfillment. Employees need the flexibility to decompress and take time off during the busy season, but this requires the proper structures and technology in play to avoid harm to the business. Eliminating inefficiencies in scheduling and communication will ultimately create room for flexibility at all times of the year, leading to happier teams and better business. 


About the Author 

Rushi Patel is CRO of Homebase.

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