Working during the holidays is the last thing anyone envisions when thinking of the holidays. Many employees want to take PTO over the holidays to spend time with their families, which can be challenging for business owners.

Managers in the retail and service industries, for instance, may have to cover even more holiday shifts during the busy holiday season. Although managing schedules can be difficult, putting a game plan in place can help avoid headaches in the future.

In order to avoid disappointment and chaos, how do you schedule your holiday activities? Well, here are 12 tips to help you set your team’s holiday schedule.

1. Establish a time limit policy.

Vacation leave is dependent on various factors, such as the employee’s position and length of employment. Workers who have worked for the company for years may get a few weeks of paid leave, while new employees may not get any.

With that said, an organization’s employee handbook should clearly state the amount of paid time off that employees are entitled to. If this policy changes, workers should be informed immediately.

2. Develop an approval process.

It is necessary for everyone to be on the same page before a policy can be implemented. In order to manage time off fairly, especially during the holidays, a fair evaluation process is essential. Make sure you know when to request vacation leave, how it’s approved (or denied), and who’s making the call.

It’s common for organizations to ask for holiday leave early in the year. As a result, with proper planning, the organization can accommodate most requests. Seniority or first-come, first-served decisions might be made according to the organization.

Having a special policy for the holidays isn’t unusual. If their business relies heavily on major holidays, like retail stores, some companies ask their employees not to take unnecessary leave. In other organizations, employees can only take one major holiday leave each year, so they need to choose between Thanksgiving and Christmas rather than splitting time between the two holidays.

3. Use a rotating system.

“HR Solutions, Inc. identified the top 10 gripes in a recent poll of workers,” Max Palmer writes in a previous Calendar article. Favoritism is first on that list, and it shows itself in various ways, including how you manage time off.”

What about that effervescent employee who always requests weekends off? Does anyone in your company have a family emergency constantly? Demonstrating preferences without recognizing them is straightforward. “After all, the squeaky wheel gets the oil — and reserved staff doesn’t have the same time off as others.”

A rotating time off schedule helps.

“Employees’ time off requests should be rotated, especially for holidays and weekends,” adds Max. “Employees remember the work trap — working holidays, every Friday night, or last Thanksgiving — whether you know it or not. You may forget who worked last Thanksgiving and New Year — but employees do not.” You can prevent it by rotating. Holiday time is essential for recharging your batteries.

4. Establish a vacation “blackout” period or cut-off date.

Another option is to set a cut-off date or a vacation “blackout” period along with the policies and procedures we talked about above. This means that during the holidays, employees can request time off up until a certain date. As a result, you’ll have enough time to deal with excessive requests, try to accommodate as many employees as possible, and deal with late requests.

Consider a situation where you are in retail, and everyone must work a certain day. You can ensure that you have the staffing you need during the holidays by blacking out certain days again well in advance.

For example, a few of the busiest shopping days of the season are expected to be Black Friday (Nov. 25), CyberMonday (Nov. 28); the Friday before Christmas (Dec. 23), and the day after Christmas (Dec. 26). So, if you’re in retail, you’ll want all hands on deck. When you communicate clearly and transparently about expectations, people will understand and support you.

5. Workloads and responsibilities need to be shared.

There is a bit more flexibility required when it comes to holiday schedules. It’s especially true if you hire seasonal workers. After all, they tend to need more supervision.

You can team seasonal workers with veteran workers with good scheduling. As a result, your employees can help new hires with processes they’re unfamiliar with.

Knowing your team’s to-do list gives you more scope to see if tasks can be distributed more evenly. And it might free up a little time to give people a break.

6. Building a stronger team.

Your team can be strengthened in a variety of ways. For instance, using former employees. Due to their familiarity with the company, they do not need to be trained.

In addition, temporary employees can be used. There is often a higher cost associated with these employees, but the search process is much quicker. In order to have these employees trained before the holiday period begins, it can be a good idea to have them start just before the holiday period.

7. On major holidays, close your business if you can.

For retail and other sectors, working on holidays is unavoidable. It’s possible, however, to announce certain days as company holidays if your business type permits it. You will find that your employees will appreciate having Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day off. Depending on your business strategy and processes, you can also include a few days surrounding the actual holidays.

Your employees’ well-being is worth the investment, even if it seems like it will stretch the company’s bottom line. You’ll be able to motivate your employees more throughout the year when they see how much you care about them. Additionally, good rest always boosts the team’s overall productivity.

8. Prepare for last-minute absences.

An employee’s absence cannot be predicted. In spite of that, it is inevitable, especially during the colder months. If it happens, have a backup plan. You could add an extra person to your schedule each week until the holidays are over, for example.

By doing this, you have someone that can pick up the slack if someone calls out. Overtime pay can also be offered to employees who agree to stay late.

9. Give employees the option to work from home.

Offer remote work options if your business does not depend entirely on employees being on-site. As a result, your staff can run errands during the day or work from another city while you keep things running smoothly.

If this isn’t an option, you could compromise by implementing a hybrid schedule. With this approach, employees would be required to come in a couple of days per week and work at home the rest.

10. Provide incentives for staff to work shifts that are less desirable.

There are certain days everyone wants off during the holidays. You don’t want to be short-staffed when you really need it. For instance, if you own a pie shop and it’s Thanksgiving day. Offer your employees more pay for those shifts in order to encourage them to work them.

In addition, you might be able to entice them with extra vacation time next year or a bonus package that appeals to employees.

11. Use an employee scheduling app.

Setting up your employees’ holiday schedules can still be a challenge, even if you have all the info and have made compromises. Planning takes a lot of thought, so using a time-tracking and scheduling platform is helpful for streamlining the process.

You’ll also enjoy the following benefits with the right employee scheduling app:

  • Establish a clear understanding of everyone’s working hours.
  • Keep records of work hours to comply with tax and labor laws.
  • Ensure that employee hours are accurately recorded.
  • Keep labor costs low by avoiding overtime and redundancies.
  • Provide employees with remote access to their schedules.
  • Make it easier for employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by improving their time management skills.

Additionally, an employee scheduling app can be a valuable tool for managing your holiday PTO policy.

Work schedules can be created using a variety of productivity software available today. But, we strongly recommend Calendar, Humanity, Deputy, Sling, and Connecteam.

12. Keep your schedule predictable — if possible.

To avoid confusion, plan a consistent schedule so everyone knows when they are going to work. Moreover, don’t let workers change schedules without permission. As a result of thinking they were scheduled to meet each other, nobody showing up at this time is the worst-case scenario.

By giving workers more freedom to manage their own schedules, you can relieve yourself of some of the work and stress. Until a no-show causes a problem.

Create an approval system so that workers must go through you before swapping days and times. You can visualize everyone’s availability and request schedule changes using a scheduling tool. Having the ability to switch around schedules quickly and check schedule updates on the go would be even better.

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