The holiday season means new scheduling challenges for managers and business owners. Striking a fair balance between employee time off and business operational needs during this time is complex to say the least. However, giving employees the holiday relief they want while keeping the company running doesn’t have to add to holiday stress.
A little planning, flexibility, and some holiday spirit can go a long way to keeping employees happy and productive. Here are five ways to manage employee time during the holidays.
Set clear time off policies
Employees likely have time off that they are owed or that has accrued, and so it’s important to set clear policies and expectations about how and when they can take this time. For industries when the holidays are especially busy—such as service and hospitality—managers should make it clear early on how much time employees can take off, when they can take time, and how many consecutive days are allowable. In some cases it’s beneficial to set vacation blackout periods (and inform employees early of this!) when no one can take time off. Even in more flexible work environments, be sure to create a clear leave request process and let employees know far in advance if not everyone can have time off, and if requests are taken on a first-come-first-serve basis. Little is as crushing for employee morale as learning at the last moment that their holiday plans must be canceled.
Plan for flexibility
In any work environment, it’s inevitable that employees will have holiday plans like children’s pageants and visiting relatives that require arriving late or leaving early from work. Building flexibility for such interruptions into the schedule can save headaches when they arise. It can also be helpful to create systems in which employees take responsibility for their own time and productivity, such as special holiday policies for making up lost hours by working early or late. Online scheduling apps are also terrific for getting employees to take ownership of their own work hours. Further, managers can save themselves frustration during the holidays by cutting back on staff meetings and notifying employees of important work events further in advance than usual.
Offer holiday pay
Some employees value money over time, and so the holidays can present an opportunity to earn extra cash. To make up for additional employee leave, offer added holiday pay for those who work longer hours or take shifts on important days like Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, to avoid hurting employee morale, make sure that holiday pay is worked into an overall systematized pay structure; if it’s perceived as a last minute payoff for employees doing a job nobody else wants, managers run the risk of paying extra for grumpy employees.
The holidays are extraordinarily busy times both at home and at work, and so schedule clarity and reminders can solve many employee time management issues. Using a mobile time tracking app to make and publish schedules keeps everyone on the same page, and automated reminders about work time and important work events prevent holiday forgetfulness. With cloud-based, mobile scheduling, every employee will have the schedule, updates, and reminders in their pocket no matter how packed their holiday plans become.
Make work festive
Make working hours more enjoyable by infusing some holiday spirit. Employees will be less likely to feel the need to escape “business as usual” if they can bring the holidays into work. Consider letting employees decorate their desks or the office, or make work hours more comfortable with additional causal dress days. Holiday parties—especially during work hours—and company-provided treats like food and gifts also give employees something to look forward to at work, and go a long way toward keeping morale high.
Finally, remember that employees have lives outside of work. As a manager, communicate understanding that employee holiday plans are important, even if not everyone can have all the time off they want.