HR Policies for Scheduling Coverage for the Holidays



This past week’s power outage at Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport reminded me of the infamous Movie with Steve Martin and John Candy. A holiday classic from 30 yrs. ago. Trying to navigate unforeseen obstacles to get home during the holiday season.

Most of your employees will be traveling somewhere over the next two weeks. Yes, by train, plane, or automobile. Many will be looking to leave a little early, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, as well.

So, what are your organizational policies and how flexible are you?

I have worked in a multitude of environments, some requiring coverage on holidays. This can cause tremendous stress for all involved, management and staff.

Here are a few suggestions to alleviate some of the holiday coverage issues you will all face.

First, plan in advance. Have a calendar and a policy and/or process to communicate your Holiday policy. If your reading this now and first deciding how to proceed you need to move quickly.

Insure coverage where necessary and offer extras if necessary. At one of my former company’s we would provide meals for those covering New Year’s Eve in our call center.

Rotate coverage where possible. If you cover one holiday, you get another off (or first choice). Ask for volunteers too.

Evaluate your pay practices. Can you pay premium pay for a holiday if not contractually obligated? Maybe a bonus payment of some sort too. When I worked for Macy’s early in my career, we received $100 gift certificates to work New Year’s Day the first year we opened on the holiday.

Another issue in many businesses is that some departments will let their folks leave early unofficially without telling senior management. I am all for flexibility, however this can cause cross department issues in your business. Be consistent about release times. If your organization decides to let folks go earlier then originally communicated, make sure everyone gets the new time.

Be flexible about folks working remotely the last week of the year. Many industries all but shut down from Christmas to New Year’s. This is a good time to allow some flex working arrangements. Schools are closed and many of your staff may be strapped for child care coverage.

Plan on having some cleaning supplies around your work place, too. The last week of year is a great time to have employees file, clean, and get set for the new year.

I rarely took the last week off as I found it quiet and a great opportunity to reset my physical space and do some organizing.

Wishing you all a fun and safe holiday season!



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