Work activity during the holiday season tends to go two different ways. For some organizations, things slow down with the year coming to a close and various projects falling under hiring freezes. On the other end of the spectrum, especially in retail, activity skyrockets as throngs of people shop for the right gifts at the best bargains. In either case, a slow down or speed up of activity can occur in a blink of a cursor or ding of a cash register. And that means those who handle human resources duties need to consider how they handle their employees during this time. Regardless if it’s a financial or retail company, employees can’t be available 24 hours a day. They need time off.
In fact, companies which require mandatory days off to maintain security see a good percentage of their employees take off during the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This can make for short-handed departments which can’t handle emergency situations. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate these potential problems.
- Plan well ahead of time. Some people may thrive on deadlines, but managers and supervisors can’t. Leave scheduling to the last minute and Murphy is bound to come around with his Law and mess things up. Do like magazines in prepping for the holiday season — they start at the end of summer. Okay, perhaps after Labor Day would be better. Send an email out asking everybody to start thinking about the time they’ll need off during the holiday season. Then follow it up with an additional memo. And when you do …
- Set a deadline. Don’t make the deadline a week before Christmas. Go with mid-November, a week or so before Thanksgiving, as the latest employees can submit their time off. Any later requests should require approval from upper management to process.
- Check with international offices. Many countries in Europe literally close up completely between Christmas and New Years Day while others, like Russia, celebrate Christmas several weeks later. Knowing this information ahead of time can prepare management to properly cover the department for daily operations or emergency situations.
- Cut employees some slack. Employees will mutter “Scrooge” under their breath if a manager keeps them until actual closing time on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, so let them go early on those days. And, if things are slow in the days between those two celebrations, let them go home a bit early as long as they complete all of their tasks ahead of time.