Christmas has a huge impact on businesses across a variety of industries. Retail and mail order companies, for example, will require additional staff to process December sales; hospital and care homes will need to balance 24/7 care needs with their staff’s holiday requests; while office workers (or some at least) will have the option to work flexibly from home.

The question is, how can busy HR departments ensure that effective and efficient processes are in place to manage this shift in working practices – for life and not just for Christmas? HR has a huge challenge to ensure that there is enough cover over the busy holiday periods: shift patterns are often altered, workers use up their remaining holiday allowance, while non-standard hours affect the December / January payroll. Throw temporary staff into the equation and the Christmas season can cause the HR department a right old headache.

This needn’t be the case if HR puts the right procedures and technology in place to manage such a diverse workforce. Whether staff work flexibly or to a different schedule, Time & Attendance software will make it much easier for HR to determine accurate working hours during a time where hours might differ week by week. By capturing accurate working hours, pulling this information into the payroll system will be straightforward, so that no time is wasted in manually inputting timesheets to calculate December salaries; while payslips are much more likely to be accurate, minimising the number of employee queries at the same time.

When HR is also likely to operate skeleton staff with few extra resources to spare, this efficiency is a real seasonal gift for the business. For those organisations bringing in a huge number of temporary staff over the December month, having an integrated HR & Payroll technology in place makes perfect business sense.

They will be able to run their usual monthly payroll for permanent staff, but add weekly seasonal runs for temporary employees as and when necessary. Some organisations might swear by an Excel spreadsheet, but the automation of labour-intensive processes will serve them well beyond Christmas.

And let’s face it the countdown to Christmas 2015 will soon be on, presenting businesses with the same staffing challenges all over again – if the summer holiday doesn’t get there first. Organisations are therefore wise to look for HR and Payroll solutions that can stand the test of time and will prove useful at any time of the year, not just this Christmas.