New research reveals that more than a third of UK businesses believe they could make additional revenue during the holidays if they ran at full capacity. With 60 per cent experiencing the rush of holiday demand, many business owners are tempted to work around the clock over the festive period out of fear of missing out.
The research, commissioned by freelancing website Upwork, outlines the benefits to be gained from being open for business at Christmas; more than one-third (36 per cent) of businesses predict they could earn up to 50 per cent more if they stayed open during the holiday season.
However, business owners face the challenge of how to meet demand during the traditional holiday period when most staff take time away from the office. In fact, one in five businesses struggle to meet demand with fewer staff to get work done.
As a way to make the most of the shopping season, 95 per cent of business owners will work in some capacity between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This often involves taking on tasks outside of their traditional responsibilities such as customer service and administrative tasks such as scheduling. For 29 per cent of owners, work involves checking and replying to emails on their phone but another 13 per cent will physically go into the office.
As a result, not only are UK bosses foregoing time away from the office but one in three miss out on festive family fun such as parties, traveling, spending time at home, and even their children’s school plays.
Another study from Bizdaq found that almost half a million small business owners will be working every day over the Christmas holidays – including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and a total of 2.8 million small business owners will be working in some capacity over the Christmas period.
“To see that over 60 per cent of (business owners) won’t get a break over Christmas goes to show the dedication and passion they possess, and with 43 per cent citing high taxes as a reason contributing towards having to work such long hours is very disappointing,” Sean Mallon, CEO of Bizdaq, says.
The cost of finding, training and employing staff is holding back these business owners from hiring additional staff. Additionally, the National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage has pushed up the cost of hiring help, which is why it was cited as the main reason for growing businesses working through the break. Despite this, only 14 per cent of business owners are planning to take on an apprentice in 2017, even with incentives and schemes in place supporting this.
Could it be more than just a cost issue? Are UK business owners just not ready to let go because of FOMO?
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is the internet’s answer to the anxiety some people face when they feel out of the loop. In social contexts, it could be the party everyone else is going to, or a movie the whole world is raving about. These are events that people with FOMO just can’t say no to, regardless of the stakes.
In a work scenario, entrepreneurs are often accused of having FOMO, refusing the let go, delegate, or take a break when their businesses are on the growth path. The Upwork study highlights the number one achilles heel of Britain’s business owners is just that: the fear of missing out on big business.
But is the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day all that profitable for businesses? Gerald Grimes, managing director of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance doesn’t seem to think so.
“People are becoming increasingly organised, preferring to make big purchases ahead of the Christmas season so that gifts and treats arrive in time to be enjoyed over Christmas and they don’t break the bank come December. With the December payday arriving earlier than in other months for most, people have wised up to the need to preserve funds over the long six week stretch until the end of January, and instead do their sales shopping in November rather than splurge over Boxing Day,” he explained.
“We’ve seen a big rise in both the number of loans taken out in November and the amount being borrowed. It’s fairly likely that we will see a wider spending gulf between November and December this year compared to last year, given that more people are making big purchases in November.”
Further reading: 5 reasons to avoid checking emails this Christmas