Everybody wants time off at Christmas – it’s an age-old problem. Naturally, you need to manage these multiple requests so that your company is able to operate, but also so that dissatisfaction doesn’t set it.
Refusing people their paid leave simply because you have not planned or foreseen their requests is bad management and leaves you having to do the inevitable and make subjective judgements about who can and cannot have their leave. This, of course, generates a certain amount of ill-will when emotions are running high.
The key priority for an employer should be to ensure that they are acting fairly and consistently.
Planning this time way ahead of Christmas is a key. It allows employees to participate (up to a point) and it also prevents certain people feeling disappointed later on.
If employees can see that everyone is being treated according to the same rules, they are less likely to feel resentful or grumpy if they don’t get the time off they want.
If everyone wants to have the same days off, then one option might be to allow people to choose between having time off over Christmas or having time off over New Year.
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve tend to be the two days most hotly fought over. If your workforce is evenly split between those with young families and those without, this might work well as those with young families tend to prefer time off at Christmas and those without tend to prefer time off a New Year.
Another option might be to let the people who do not get their first choice at Christmas or New Year to have priority when booking time off for their summer holiday.
Wherever possible, you should try to act thoughtfully – consider for example if it may be possible for those staff who are needed to work at festive times to be able to work from home for some or all of the time, or to perhaps do shorter hours on certain days.
If your business activity goes very quiet over the holiday season you might want to consider also whether it is possible to operate on a lower resource level – so you are able to grant more of those holiday requests. Applying some flexibility is likely to reap huge amounts of loyalty and appreciation from your employees that will last long after the holiday season is over.