Holiday scheduling: Keep the peace

by Managing People At Work on November 14, 2012

You need a certain number of employees to work during the holidays, maybe even on Christmas and New Year’s. But so far, you aren’t getting many volunteers, and more vacation and days-off requests are coming in than you can approve.

What to do:

Consider seniority and previous service. Some employers rely strictly on seniority when deciding who gets to take off; others keep track of who worked previous holidays. Either way leaves less room for favoritism accusations.

Spread the burden. Call on as many employees as possible and break shifts down into smaller increments. By dividing work schedules equally, you’ll be less likely to key in on certain employees for holiday work.

Let money do the talking. You’re not required to pay employees a higher rate just because they work on a holiday. But a holiday pay bonus can help fill the schedule and satisfy those irked by having to work a holiday.

Start planning early. If this season was a rough one for you as far as scheduling goes, consider planning for next year in January, asking employees their preferences about when they’re willing to work.

Make clear to applicants and new hires that they may need to work holidays or even overtime hours.

Note: Federal law says you must make a reasonable effort to accommodate employees’ “sincere” religious beliefs, including trying to give them time off for religious observances.