This is the time of year that everyone wants time off of work. Your staff has family dinners, holiday parties and lives to lead outside of work. 

The problem for small businesses is that everyone usually wants to same time. Trying to manage everyone’s requests can have your eyes crossing and staff members raging for months to come. To prevent the problems this year ,set some ground rules for yourself and your staff.

  1. Plan in Advance – By this time, all requests should already be in. Many companies require staff put in for vacations in January. If your business does not require that far in advance, at least request all Holiday vacations be in by November 1st.  If you have never done this, now would be a great time to have a smooth December. 
  2. Involve your staff – Have a staff meeting and ask everyone to help work out a schedule for the Holidays. Your team is more likely to help when they feel they are part of the solution. 
  3. Work from Home – If possible, allow your staff to work remotely. This can prevent things from shutting down completely while they are gone. 
  4. Black Out Days – If your business depends largely on the holidays, have a blackout policy. Do not allow any staff to take time off during peak business unless it is personally signed off by you.
  5. Hire contractors – Hire a staffing agency or temporary staff member or two during the holidays. They can cover your staff and keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all the work not getting done.
  6. Be Fair – Keep a log of when people requested and took time off and who had it off before during the other holidays.   Clearly have your vacation policy written and follow it.  Realize that some people will be willing to always work the holidays with an incentive – over time pay; extra vacation during the down time; or something that works for the individual willing to work the holiday.
  7. Be Smart – If you don’t allow your staff to time off, don’t expect them to be happy when you do last minute out-of-office. The last thing you want to do is come back to a resentful office.  Realize that as the owner, you too may want to work from home.  Employees will feel differently if they know that theycancall you – mostly, they won’t – they just like to know they can.

The best way to start off the New Year is with an office that works and plays well together. Remember, a happy office is a productive office!