Managing Increased Holiday Time-Off Requests 

by Mike Baize

Often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season can bring an abundance of social gatherings, gift exchanges and trips to visit family and friends. However, without proper planning, the holidays can easily become unproductive for businesses, with sparse offices or distracted employees. 

To help avoid a loss in productivity while managing an increase in time-off requests this holiday season, employers may consider the following tips:

Set expectations and communicate policies early. In advance of the busy holiday season, management should clearly communicate expectations and policies regarding time off. To help avoid uncomfortable conversations or hurt feelings if an employee’s time-off request cannot be accommodated, employers should distribute written policies to every employee before the holidays. This should also include any blackout dates related to project deadlines, proper protocol for requesting vacation time and office closure dates. 

Encourage office downtime. Holiday distractions can be inevitable as employees may be tempted by online shopping or planning a winter vacation instead of focusing on their work. Rather than ignoring the fact that employees’ minds may be focused on prepping for the holiday season, management may allow team members the opportunity to accomplish personal tasks during authorized breaks. This may help employees stay on task during the workday and lift overall office morale. Planning a seasonal group activity, such as a voluntary gift or cookie exchange, may help foster goodwill and team spirit. Bringing the holiday spirit into the workplace can increase employee engagement, leading to greater focus on work-related responsibilities. 

Allow flexibility with scheduling. Many businesses slow down during the last week of the year. If realistic, companies may consider closing their office that week since it is likely that many clients will take time off as well. While this may not be true for every industry or company, businesses can still offer flexibility by creating a shorter work schedule during the holidays or allowing employees to work remotely. Employers that need staff to work may consider allotting vacation at other times of the year or offering comp days to those who work on holidays.

Mike Baize is a manager of HR services for Insperity, which has been an advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 32 years, providing an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.

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