Time management

The Season for Holiday Time-Off Requests

Here are some of our favourite ways to manage holiday time-off requests while ensuring things continue to run smoothly at the office.

The holidays are often a hectic time of year. And, as we all know, work doesn’t slow down to make way for holiday shopping, baking, and movie marathons. So, how can you make the holidays a smoother time at the office? We’re here to share some of our favourite ways to balance productivity and holiday time-off.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Time-Off)

This likely won’t come as a surprise, but December is by far the most popular time of year for time-off requests. That’s right: the holidays beat even the sunniest of summer months when it comes to the number of vacation requests.

Based on PurelyHR users, December 26 to 28th and New Year’s Eve are all in the top 10 most requested days off. Not far behind, January 5th, 8-9th, 12th, and 16th lead the pack when it comes to most popular sick days (the post-holiday slump is real).

Although you may have fewer hands on deck this time of year, here are a few ways to ensure a smooth operation while still allowing your team to get necessary rest and time with their families. 

Closed for the Holidays

Does the week between Christmas and New Year’s look like a ghost town in your office? If this is the case and the week is traditionally a slow time for your company, consider closing over the holidays. 

In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that 15 percent of organizations shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

I’ve personally experienced this in a couple workplaces and let me tell you, it’s a huge perk. There’s something extra relaxing about knowing that you’re not missing out on anything because everyone is in the same boat. And, since everyone is out of the office, your inbox isn’t as scary as you would think after a week away!

Providing this additional week off is a great way to thank your employees for their hard work throughout the year and stand out from your competition. Your generous holiday policy could help attract top talent to your company.


Holiday Incentives

Of course, not every company can close for a week, but there are other ways to make the holidays a little sweeter for your employees.

To make coordinating vacation time easier, ask employees to volunteer to work during the holiday season and consider offering incentives. 

Some great incentives include:

  • Extra vacation or lieu days that employees can take once the holiday season is over.
  • Compensate employees with a gift card or holiday bonus to make it worth their while to work on those sought-after holidays.
  • Offer time-off (a day, an extended lunch hour, or even a few hours) so employees can run holiday errands (thanks to HubSpot for this holiday motivation suggestion).

Opportunities for Talent Growth during the Holidays

This is an often-overlooked opportunity for the holidays and probably one of our personal favourites (discovered when researching for our post on sabbaticals). Rather than think of staff absences as a negative, consider the professional development opportunities.

It’s common for those in leadership and executive positions to take time off over the holidays.  Besides being important for employees at all levels to take time off to recharge, these absences are also a great stress test for your organization. This can give future leaders the opportunity to shine.

As outlined in this Harvard Business Review article, when management takes time off, this allows room for more junior high performers to step up and take on some of the tasks usually handled by those on leave.

Although it requires a bit of planning from HR and management to ensure there’s a plan in place, this could be the gift that keeps on giving by scouting internal candidates who would be the perfect fit for future leadership roles.

Happy Holidays from PurelyHR

How do you keep things afloat this time of year (while still taking time to enjoy the season)? Share your helpful holiday advice in the comments below or tweet us @purelyhrsoft.

Happy holidays from all of us here at PurelyHR! Wishing you all the best for the new year!

Originally published December 2018, updated December 11, 2019

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