The holiday season is for celebration–not arguments about staff schedules. When the holidays roll around, several employees often request the same time off. Conflicts make it harder to avoid understaffing without hurting someone’s feelings. Fortunately, clear leave policies and advanced HR software can help you preserve everyone’s spirit of goodwill towards fellow staff.
The holidays can be a stressful time for employees and employers alike. Protect employee well-being by being understanding and flexible, especially for workers with dependents and difficult circumstances. Show your appreciation for employees who work during the holidays, but don’t expect workers to prioritize the company over family.
Use these tips to reduce unnecessary drama when you manage employee holiday schedules:
Set an early deadline for vacation requests
Give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead and ensure that all essential roles are covered. When setting a deadline, don’t forget to include the time it takes to approve requests. Update your leave management system and notify employees to make expectations clear.
Create blackout dates
Blackout dates are specific days or times of year when employees are not allowed to take vacation. This can be helpful for businesses that have seasonal spikes in demand or that need to maintain a certain level of staffing during the holidays. Whenever you change blackout dates or add new ones, it’s time to update your employee handbook.
Consider the entire holiday season
When managing employee holiday schedules, it is important to consider the entire holiday season, either during summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) or from winter (Halloween through New Year’s Day). This is because many employees may want to take time off during this period, even if they aren’t celebrating on an official holiday. By managing the entire holiday season together, businesses can avoid being blindsided by overlapping leave requests.
Utilize employee scheduling software
Use employee scheduling software to create, distribute, and manage employee holiday schedules. Quality software can help businesses process employee vacation requests, track leave hours, and identify potential staffing gaps. Many employee scheduling programs also offer features such as shift swapping and notifications, making it easier for businesses to manage employee schedules during the holidays.
Use a rotating system
Avoid favoritism and promote fairness with a rotating system. This system involves rotating employees through different holiday shifts. For example, employees who work straight through Thanksgiving deserve their turn for leave with Christmas or New Years. Keep long term lists because employees will remember if their colleagues keep getting more holidays off.
Publish holiday schedule ASAP
Once the holiday schedule is finalized, publish it as soon as possible. This gives employees time to make necessary arrangements, such as booking travel or childcare. Keep employees updated on any changes to the schedule. Some scheduling software allows workers to swap shifts, but employees need time to negotiate among themselves.
Incentivize working less desirable shifts
Some holidays, such as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, are unpopular shifts for a reason. Busy customers can be extra disgruntled, and workers have less time to celebrate with friends and family. Think about providing extra compensation to employees on these shifts by offering bonuses, extra time off, or other rewards.
Ensure workload and responsibilities coverage
When creating the holiday schedule, don’t forget to cover all essential responsibilities and the likely workload. This may involve cross-training employees or hiring temporary workers. You can’t expect full productivity from a skeleton crew, but your business shouldn’t fall too far behind or leave clients hanging.
Make scheduling policies when hiring seasonal employees
Before hiring seasonal employees, make sure they understand your scheduling needs. Some seasonal workers still want flexibility to enjoy their holidays. Be totally transparent about pay, blackout dates, and holiday policies. Find the candidates who match your current needs.
Consider remote work during holidays
Some types of employees can complete their work remotely during the holidays. Give employees more flexibility with a hybrid work environment. Holidays let your business test the viability of remote work without committing to long term policies. If you can find ways to support remote work, then you’ll have a much broader pool of potential job candidates for recruiting.
Expect and prepare for last-minute absences
Even with the best planning, last-minute absences can always happen during the holidays. One worker might have a legitimate family emergency and another might decide to call in “sick” because their leave request was denied. Develop a plan for handling these absences, even if you need a couple workers on standby.
Close day-of for major holidays
Does your business actually need to be open on major holidays? Depending on your industry, you may not need to conduct business or answer phones on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Promote a work-life balance by letting employees relax and recharge with their families.
Discover how Netchex can help you create better holiday schedules:
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