The Importance of Employee Flexibility During the Holidays
If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that we need to be flexible. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to pivot in a number of ways from allowing more employees to work at home, to finding new ways to serve their customers. And while we all hoped that the pandemic would be over by now, sadly that is not the case. Employee flexibility has always been important during the holidays, and perhaps this year that is truer than ever.
Here are a few things to consider as your employees are booking time off and vacation this year.
1. Can you afford a shut-down?
During the holiday season, many companies are busier than ever. But many also slow down significantly. One of the easiest ways for an employer to manage multiple requests for time off over the holidays is to simply offer a brief shut down – usually between Christmas and New Year.
2. What work needs to be done over the holidays?
Some companies need something in between full operations and shut down over the holiday season. For example, maybe you don’t require workers on the floor fulfilling orders because it is a slow time of year, but you still require administrative staff to answer calls and emails. In a situation like this, it might be possible to allow employees assigned to those tasks to work from home.
3. Communicate how you will prioritize requests for time off.
If your company cannot shut down over the holidays, then as an employer, you will have to be prepared for multiple requests. There are a number of ways to manage such requests, but it is important that you communicate to your staff how requests will be managed in order to avoid the perception of unfairness.
For example, some employers take requests for time off on a first-come, first-serve basis and others do it based on seniority. You might want to consider looking at who had to work over the holidays last year, and give those employees first opportunity at time off this year. Whatever method you decide, let your staff know how the decisions are made. This will help you to manage expectations, and possibly help you avoid problems down the road.
4. Promote a culture of fairness.
Managing employee requests for vacations during the holiday season can be a challenge. This is a time of year that most people wish to get away from work for a little while to spend time with their families. And in this year in particular, it may be especially important for your employees’ mental health to get out of the work environment for awhile.
Because of this, it’s important that you demonstrate that you are doing what you can to make these decisions in a fair manner. For employees who you cannot give time off to over the holiday season, perhaps consider giving them some extra time in the New Year or first opportunity to book time off over the holidays next year.
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