CoAdvantage – During this time of year, up until the New Year, the U.S. sees a steady stream of holiday festivities and religious observances. For many people, it’s a time of celebration, joy, and satisfying time spent with loved ones.
For employers – many of whom are at their busiest during this time of year – it’s also the season of endless time off requests. This creates a unique set of challenges: how do you maintain productivity while still honoring employee requests in a way that’s fair and equitable?
We’ve got you covered. Here are seven best practices to navigate holiday time off requests effectively, efficiently, and with good grace.
1: Blackout holiday leave.
One option is to simply disallow time off requests across the board. This makes more sense in some industries than others. For example, retail is often at its busiest during the holidays, so having an all-hands-on-deck is more important. Just make sure employees get ample opportunities for time off outside of the blackout period.
2: Require advance notice.
If you do allow time off, the last thing you want is to be juggling last-minute requests. Let employees know they must submit their leave requests by a certain date, even if it’s weeks or months beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask as early as September or October, especially if the holidays are a rush time for your business.
3: Determine a fair way to allocate time off.
First-come, first-serve is a classic way to simultaneously make the time-off approval process easy and equitable. Bonus: it also encourages employees to request their time off early. Seniority is another option; but if senior employees always get their preferred times and others never, that’s a recipe for resentment and bad feelings. Another approach might be selected by a random lottery.
4: Maintain a resource pool.
This means having an established group of contractors, temporary employees, and/or part-timers that you can call up at need. It can take time to cultivate such a pool, however. If you don’t have one already established, make it a New Year’s resolution to start building one next year.
5: Incentive holiday shifts.
Give employees a positive reason to agree to work holiday shifts. For example, you can offer a holiday pay differential or let them take comp time after the holidays. You can also offer other treats, such as gift certificates to restaurants, spas, movie theaters, etc., to reward employees for working on otherwise undesirable days.
6: Be flexible.
Even if you don’t normally allow flex schedules or remote work options, the holidays are a good time to permit it temporarily. You can also allow employees to find their own replacements or to swap shifts with others.
7: Formalize your policy.
If you don’t have written policies governing how leave requests are handled, now is the time to create them. Address when-what-how of holiday leave: when requests are required, how approvals will be decided, what channels are acceptable for making requests (e.g., in writing), etc.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.