So we’re quickly approaching the festive season, and everything’s going well in your business. You’ve got robust plans in place so you’re in the best possible position for maximising your profits, and you’re feeling pretty organised and in control. All of a sudden though, you’ve got a big issue on your hands. Your staff all want time off. Understandably, they want to enjoy the festivities, maybe travel long distances to visit relatives. You hadn’t planned for this though, and you’re now in a bit of a pickle.
What should you do, and how should you approach this challenge without landing yourself in a nightmare situation?
Before we get into anything else, let’s consider where you stand in the eyes of the law. Thankfully, this is pretty clear-cut. As an employer, you have the right to determine when your staff take their leave. You can decide that you won’t accept leave requests during busier periods, including Christmas, or if it means too many people would be off at once. So you aren’t obliged to give your workers the time off that they want.
Still though, this doesn’t mean that you should announce that everyone’s presence is required, and accept no more comments or questions on the matter. This approach will no doubt cause a great deal of unrest, and do you no favours.
The best course of action here is to ensure that you’re being fair and consistent. If everyone is being treated the same, then it’s more likely that they’ll accept that you can’t necessarily accommodate all requests.
You may decide to let your staff decide between taking holiday over Christmas or New Year, but not both. If you can’t grant leave for everyone, then you could let those who missed out that they'll have priority when it comes to booking in their dates for 2017. Be firm, but reasonable, and never forget that your staff are simply human beings who probably want to enjoy some time putting their feet up with their families.
And on a final note, provided work can be done as usual you may want to consider offering your staff the option to work from home. If you can still meet your operational requirements, then this could prove to be a good compromise.
By now, you probably recognise that conflict over holiday requests during the Christmas period could have largely been avoided if you’d only anticipated these issues in advance. It’s much easier to manage holiday requests if you’re specific with people well in advance about requests you can accept and those you can’t – and why! Maybe this is a wake-up call to get your ducks in a row for the year ahead.