Guide to event holiday stress
Year after year event planning and coordination ranks in the top ten most stressful jobs. Usually, it’s in the top five. Event management is consistently ranked as stressful as or more stressful than jobs like firefighting and law enforcement. Unfortunately, many event professionals currently dealing with holiday event stress on top of all their other responsibilities. So, how can savvy event pro's mitigate this risks?
Event managers are constantly enforcing policy (and maybe bending it sometimes) and putting out fires from fickle customers and vendors. Managers and coordinators have to deal with constant change, whether it’s from staff turnover or a vendor who can no longer meet their commitment or a customer who just can’t decide if the linens should be white or ivory. Event management has a lot of unknowns, so coordinators have to be ready for curve balls at any time.
This is especially true during the winter holidays. For one, it’s often the busiest season for event and venue management. It’s also a season of unpredictable weather, which doesn’t matter just at the local level. Recent years have seen winter weather bring the entire supply chain to a halt. Event and venue managers have to be ready for orders to be delayed or canceled, travel plans to change at the last second and more. And they have to be ready with a solution when the worst happens.
The stress doesn’t end there. Holidays are a time to spend with loved ones, so many event and venue staff schedule time off throughout the season. They have their own events to attend! Managers and coordinators have to plan for being short staffed. They also have to contend with the stress of balancing their profession with their home life. It’s difficult to keep your head in the game when you want to be somewhere else, so often event team members’ focus might stray during the holidays. It’s also cold and flu season, so being prepared to send sick staff home or cover their responsibilities is a must.
Mitigating Holiday Event Stress
There are ways to mitigate holiday-related stress in event and venue management. Event managers and coordinators can adopt a few strategies to get through this season with minimal stress.
Start with transparent communication to all levels of your staff and partners. Communicate last second changes to everyone who needs to know and even to those who only maybe need to know. Communicate staffing schedules – and especially schedule changes – clearly and update them frequently. Be prepared to contact back-up vendors and suppliers in a crisis and be ready to calm your clients’ concerns.
Automate as many processes as you can. Can you set up automated emails to handle last minute changes and event order alterations? Can you make your notifications as easy as possible? Do it and save yourself tons of time and stress. Remember, the fewer manual process you have to complete, the fewer you have to remember to complete. No one wants that sudden “Did I send that email?” fear when they should be singing carols with their family.
Plan to share responsibilities. What happens when half of your accounting department is out with the flu? Who handles registrations when the lead person has time scheduled off? Work out a plan for shared responsibilities now to save yourself and your clients some serious headaches down the road. Cross training is a must for an efficient organization, no matter what time of year. This part goes hand-in-hand with open communication too. Make sure your event staff understand that they need to help the team by planning their workflows around their scheduled time off. Make sure they know the chain of command and responsibility for each of their tasks. Doing this planning now means you won’t be scrambling later.
Winter holidays are a hectic time personally and professionally. But event planners don’t have to look at the holidays with dread. Some simple planning steps taken now will benefit the whole team in this busy time and beyond.