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‘Tis The Season For Time Off Requests

Happy Holidays HR Decision Makers

The holidays are hectic for everyone. But that isn’t groundbreaking HR content. But we can definitely argue that those in positions of operations have their work cut out for them this time of year. Did you know that December is by far the month where employees will take the most vacation, even more so than traditional summer months like June through August?

If we look at the data from PurelyHR users in 2018 December 26th, 27th, 28th, and Dec 31st are all in the top 10 most requested days off and in January the 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th, and 16th are in the top 10 most popular sick days.

That might not really come as a shock to you either, especially if you’ve been in the game for a long while and we’re pretty confident you all run a tight ship, but in today’s blog post, we’re kicking off our Holiday content with some helpful advice on how to keep everything running smoothly over the holidays even when you don’t have as many hands as usual.

Close the Office for Major Holidays

Many of your employees may want time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. If this week is traditionally a slow time for your company, consider closing the office. It’s not unusual for companies to close during this week. In fact, the Society of Human Resources Management reports that 15 percent of organizations shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

By shutting down the office, you can allow all your employees to have the week off. This makes it much easier for you to coordinate vacation time requests. Providing this additional week off is also a great way to stand out from your competition. Your generous policy could help attract top talent to your company.

Offer Incentives for Employees to Choose to Work

Not every company can afford to close for a week during the holiday season. If that’s not possible in your industry, that’s fine. To make coordinating vacation time easier, ask employees to volunteer to work during the holiday season. If enough employees volunteer to work, you won’t have as many vacation requests to juggle.

To encourage more employees to elect to work during the holidays, consider offering incentives. For example, you could offer bonuses to employees who choose to work. You could also offer extra vacation days that the volunteers could take after the holiday season is over.

Expanding the Workforce in Peak Times

For certain industries – retail and hospitality, for example – the hectic nature of the holiday season requires the addition of more employees, usually casual workers to help with the increased workload. It’s a smart strategy, bringing in the extra resources you need for a brief period before operations settle back to a regular routine in the new year.

Casual Workers may Face Increased Risks in the Workplace.

In addition to the Work Health & Safety Training considerations taken for all employees, the Victorian Trades Hall Council points out that casual workers may face increased risks in the workplace. Amidst the pressure of the season, proper training procedures may be shortened in order to get workers into their roles faster.

For employers, it’s important to recognize that short-term workers need to be afforded the same care as a full-time employee. According to the Australian Industry Group, casual staff makes up one-fifth of the national workforce. Regardless of the time of year, providing and maintaining a safe working environment – as far as reasonably practicable – is essential, as is carrying out a comprehensive WHS induction for all new casual staff.

Opportunities for Talent Growth during Holidays

This is probably one of our personal favourites, which we discovered when doing research for our sabbatical article, and it falls in line particularly with leadership and executives. 

It’s very important for leadership in any organization to lead by example when it comes to self-care – a task that’s not always the easiest to execute for high performing executives. However, specifically when it comes to time off (in this case around the holidays) not only will it set a good example of time off behaviour to the entire department, but it also can be a means to stress test your organizational chart and give future leaders the chance to grow.

Basically, the idea was in this specific case was that a company that offers long-term leaves of absence like a sabbatical was that it allowed room for more junior high performers who have expressed interest in leadership and management roles, to step up and take on some of the tasks usually handled by the executive who is now on leave. Allowing for your office to “get out of its comfort zone” and see how it operates with key people missing from it’s day to day operations will also show you where the areas that are need of improvement might be hiding, hence the “stress test” phrase.

The same benefits could be taken advantage of around the holidays with more senior or executive employees most likely having gained more vacation time over the years.

Do you have any operational tips and tricks that your organization uses to keep everything afloat around this time of year? We’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments! Or feel free to tweet us @purelyhrsoft, we know a social media manager who would love to know what you think of this post!

Jared Goodman

As Content Coordinator at PurelyHR, it’s Jared’s job to research the latest and greatest time off trends and deliver them in impactful ways to our customers. A self-proclaimed Anti-Hustler, Jared knows the value time off can have in a business, having burned out several times as a freelancer before finding true work/life balance at PurelyHR. It’s his mission to help all 100,000 of our users achieve that same satisfaction.

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