An HR guide to managing holiday requests over December

November 21st 2018 | Posted by phil scott

An HR guide to managing holiday requests over December

An HR guide to managing holiday requests over December

Managing employee holiday requests throughout the year can take planning, preparation and organisation, especially over key busy periods, such as Christmas and New Year.

The Christmas and New Year period is understandably a time when employees are looking to use their annual leave to spend with their families, visit family and friends far away, take a holiday or any of a number of reasons. A key priority of businesses is to make sure that it can continue to run smoothly over this period. so managing holidays effectively is an important part of HR. It needs to be considered when reviewing annual leave requests and approving Christmas time holiday.

Legally, a business can refuse holiday requests.  However, when the requirements of running the business over Christmas are balanced as much as possible with employee needs, this can help create an environment of staff loyalty, motivation and morale. Employees will want to feel that their holiday requests are evaluated and that everyone is treated fairly.

How can holiday requests for December be managed effectively?

• Plan ahead – The more time a business has to work out the Christmas and New Year period, the smoother things can be.  Looking ahead and considering what the business requires over the time period is essential to understanding what cover is needed by staff.  Understanding employees holiday needs for more than just Christmas may also help – for example, if employees are planning a bigger summer holiday they may choose to work over Christmas to balance their own calendars.  A business could find that by openly discussing the company’s Christmas requirements and staff preferences that a scenario that provides the needed cover can be reached smoothly.

• Give departments some involvement – One way to manage the Christmas period is to give some level of involvement to each department.  Once the business has worked out roughly the level of cover that is needed, each department could then take ownership of working out how that is managed between their own team.  Perhaps they can work out a scenario where each person takes some leave so that everybody has the opportunity or they work out a way to take turns within their small department – with the needs of the business still being met.

• Use a system – There are many different ways a business can review annual leave requests over Christmas all with their own pros and cons.  Consider ahead if using a more formal system would be right for your business.  This could be a first come, first served approach, a ballot or an employee rota.

• Be agile – Think about whether the business needs full office cover over Christmas.  Would agile working be possible and still provide the smooth running that’s needed?  If so, giving those working the chance to work remotely could be an option.  The business would still have employees working but in an agile way that offers some flexibility over this period.

• Be compact – Again, look at ways that the business could receive the support needed, but in a different way that could benefit employee needs too.  Think about reducing company hours on those days so that employees who are working are able to be more flexible.

• Take a break  – Whilst this may not work for certain industries or businesses, perhaps your business could still run profitably over the period with the office closed over the key annual leave requests dates.  Consider whether closing the office between Christmas and New Year would have an adverse effect on the business.  If not, offering this to staff would be a great opportunity to reward a hardworking team.

However your business manages the busy Christmas and New Year holiday request period, it’s important to remember to be open minded and treat staff fairly.  It’s a significant time for employees and it will help in the long-term employer/employee relationship for a business to be fair in their approach with all staff.

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