HR and the Holidays: The “Time Off” Issue

It’s the holidays, and time off requests are rolling in like tins of unwanted baked goods. There are football games, family gatherings, it’s cold and flu season, there are a thousand extra errands to run, and oh yeah…the holidays themselves. This time of year can present a big problem in the world of HR and leadership.

We realize that everyone has a life outside of work, but that doesn’t mean that production stops. This is still a business, and the buck stops with management. Here are a few tips to get you through this tough HR and managementtangle during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

Ask everyone to get their time off requests in as early as possible. This should be done in a friendly email or memo and it should communicate clearly exactly how these requests should be placed. If your company has a self-service portal, give clear instructions on how to use it and let it be known that there is only one way to request off.

Planning ahead means more than scheduling ahead, it means having a plan of action. Sometimes an employee’s time off request happens to land on a big dead line or smack in the middle of a project in which you will need them. This shouldn’t be an automatic decline of their request. If at all possible, create a plan of action with them that allows them that time. For the employee, this may mean working ahead, putting in extra time or making the proper preparations to work remotely.

Encourage Co-Workers to Work it Out Together

While handling these requests and creating schedules might be your job, that doesn’t exclude employee participation. When a decision between requests arises, get those employees together and see if they can make their own compromise. Whatever they come up with together will surely be better than a cut and dry decision from HR. Employees will show a surprising amount compromise toward one another.

Working From Home Shouldn’t be a Last Resort

Some employers are reluctant to let employees work from home. For many, they have good reason, but this time of year calls for some bend. Instead of treating teleworking as the last resort, treat it as your go-to problem solver when requests are coming in by the dozen. If certain times don’t work for certain departments, present teleworking as an option, and make sure your team has everything they need.

A lot of these requests off will require actual time off of work; however, others might not necessarily need that. Internet hot spots work on those long car rides, and you never know who might be looking for an excuse to take some time away from their in-laws. Having options is extremely helpful.

Don’t be a Scrooge

Have a real reason for denying a request; not just that they didn’t turn in their request on time, they haven’t been with the company long enough to receive that day off, or (let’s be honest), because you have to be there. Work together and be honest with your workforce about the organization’s needs during this time.

Workers take more time off during the holidays, and the office is closed more frequently, so the time that we are in the office needs to be used optimally. The time off and time on is one big compromise. If your team expects you to facilitate their work-life freedom, they need to help make it work. Ask them to fully enjoy their time out of the office and come back refreshed and ready to work.

You scratch their back, and they’ll scratch yours…except don’t actually do that, it will be just another headache for HR.

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