Nothing’s better than free, they say. But maybe… how about one thing that’s free, which leads directly to other assets obtained at slashed prices? An unexpected day off, exactly when the cost of all the items you want are drastically reduced? Now that is even better than free and that’s what you’re giving your staff when you use Black Friday as an employee incentive award.
A Modern-Day Reason to Give Thanks
Thanksgiving is something of an oddity amongst national holidays; it doesn’t occur on the same date every year, but, rather, on the same day. It’s always observed on the fourth Thursday of November. This has given rise to a scenario that astute salespersons recognized as a package:
• Most employees who had Thursday off, given the chance, wouldn’t go into work for a single day before their weekend began.
• Most bosses understand that a poorly-staffed business won’t run at anything like its optimum, so those employees who do turn up are being paid full salaries to provide diminished performance.
• Almost everyone hates a last-minute panic, and anybody wanting to get their Christmas shopping at least started could, most likely, be persuaded to do so by stores heaped with bargains.
Opportunity Knocking, for Everyone
Black Friday isn’t a federal holiday, but the day after thanksgiving has long been a recognized — and expected — day off for government employees and non-retail occupations. This creates not a little ill-feeling for employees working in the private sector, who are (a) working when their public servants are not, and (b) are missing out on heavily-advertised bargains they want a slice of. A benevolent boss, who salves both these irritants with one wonderful stroke, is a boss who’ll get better performance from his staff through the rest of the year.
The name “Black Friday” refers to the day following Thanksgiving Day every year. A relatively recent initiative, it quickly became cemented into the public consciousness as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
Initially, retailers typically opened for business at 6:00 a.m., but by the mid- to late-2000s many were trading at 5:00, then at 4:00. In 2011, several major retailers — among them Bealls, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Target — opened at midnight. The next year, Walmart led a number of competitors in announcing they would reopen as many of their stores as they were able at 8:00 p.m. on the evening of Thanksgiving Day itself (a handful of states have regulations preventing stores from opening on the official holiday, euphemistically called “blue laws,” religiously-based laws elsewhere intended to prevent, selling alcohol on Sundays).
Since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year, a pattern which shows no signs of changing. It’s likely your employees will very much appreciate the chance to coin in their own bargains when, were it not for your strategic altruism, they would otherwise be chained to their desks, missing out.
While traditional incentives tend to recognize individual achievement — exceeded sales goals, years of service, promotions, even birthdays — a blanket day off makes everyone feel equally appreciated (and grateful). A universal day off recognizes and rewards a successful staff as a team; instantly investing itself as the sort of gesture which motivates future performance.
If you’re an employer in the retail business, you’ll want every member of your staff on duty (and they should have expected this when they applied for the job). In any other sector, though, the perceived and actual rewards of giving your staff the day off are manifold. Productivity would probably have been diminished by only a partial staff on duty anyway. Whether used as an “in lieu” day, rewarding employees who worked over another unofficial day off — such as Columbus Day — or as incentive or reward, consideration should be given to closing shop on Black Friday. It may even free up few unexpected hours for the boss.