For most businesses, the end of the year can be hectic. Employees who scramble to use their vacation time during the holidays can leave businesses short-handed. As a result, it can create a scheduling headache as employers try to balance worker requests for time off with the need to stay adequately staffed.
So how do employers deal with holiday scheduling? Here are five time-tested guidelines for preparing a holiday work schedule. Follow these so you’re not left with an empty office or a group of disgruntled employees:
1. Lay Down the Ground Rules Well in Advance
Before anything else, clearly spell out holiday work requirements and scheduling practices. Put the holiday policy in writing and ensure every employee reads and understands it. Doing so will avoid many problems. Publish reminders every six months before peak vacation-request times and consider posting a schedule showing who is taking what time off.
2. Specify Blackout Dates
The hard truth is there are some businesses, particularly in the health care, safety, and retail sectors, whose employees have to work while others are home with their families. Conflict can usually be avoided by communicating such issues at the time of hiring and providing regular reminders.
3. Plan for Conflict
It is inevitable that conflicts will arise if the number of employees requesting vacation exceeds the minimum coverage threshold. To avoid hurt feelings, it is important that you establish an equitable process for resolving such matters.
4. Consider a Compressed Workweek
Instead of scheduling five eight-hour days, give employees the option of working four 10-hour days. This will free up extra time for staff to enjoy the holidays. If you can spare it, particularly if most of your clients tend to clear out at the end of the year, you may want to consider closing for a week. Chances are your clients won’t miss you, but you should have someone on call just in case.
5. Respect Diversity
Although Christmas tends to get the most attention, many religions have some form of year-end celebration. Your vacation policies should accommodate diverse religious beliefs.
It is important that you take a positive approach whenever discussing the time-off policy with employees. Emphasize the consideration that went into establishing a system that is both fair and functional. Remember that you are dealing with people and there are no absolutes. Everyone on your staff will have to be flexible.