For many managers, the real nightmares come after Halloween.
Employee time-off requests pour in throughout the months of November and December. It often feels like every worker wants to be out during the week of Thanksgiving and throughout the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year's Day. However, the problem in many workplaces is that not everyone can be gone at once. The situation frequently leads to tensions between coworkers competing for the same vacation days. At the same time, managers may feel like they are under siege. They are trying their best to be fair, but are worried that approving too many vacation requests will leave the office understaffed and unproductive.
In a past article, I highlighted a few different strategies for preventing the headaches associated with holiday scheduling. For example, identifying and communicating precisely how many employees are needed during the holidays can help workers understand there may be limits to how many people can concurrently take time off.
Another idea, when possible, is to allow more work-hour flexibility during the holiday season. Instead of scheduling five eight-hour days, managers might give employees the option of working four 10-hour days. Because both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays this year, expanding hours on some days and extending the weekend may provide enough time off for some workers.
Here are a few added suggestions to help end 2016 with a little less stress:
Start time-off discussions now
Consider launching communications about holiday time-off during an October staff meeting. Doing so might cause some employees who would typically procrastinate when it comes to requesting vacation days to act now. Organizing schedules outside the hectic months of November and December might also result in more reasoned discussions between staff and managers and more willingness to compromise.
Increase telecommuting options during the holidays
Some employees may want to keep working, but school vacations and associated childcare needs force them to request extended vacation time. Telecommuting is one option that allows workers to save their vacation days for later use, while moving projects forward from the home office. In fact, for many employees, the option to work from home around the holidays is a significant office perk. One added benefit is that by allowing more workers to telecommute, the logjam of vacation day requests may clear up a bit.
Hold on to schedules from prior years
Managers should make certain they are aware when some employees repeatedly find themselves working the holidays, while others always seem to get the time off. Some workers may not mind working the holiday season due to varying family traditions and cultural differences. But others may feel like they always get stuck. This is why it is a good idea to save and revisit schedules from past years annually; you can make certain all employees have a chance to spend time away with their families and loved ones if they wish to.
Eric Bonugli is a District Manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.