Maintaining Workplace Productivity during the Holidays

Maintaining workplace productivity in the holiday season is really a matter of organization. This is the time of year when people are likely to make commitments to social functions, holidays, and other family and personal affairs. Your task is to ensure that staff attendance is operating smoothly, with no friction between staff or management.

Setting up the holiday schedule

You have to plan in advance for the holiday season, preferably well in advance, a few months. This allows people to create their own holiday schedules, and in many cases to organize their holidays better. It's much more effective method than a last minute guessing game about who's on duty.

The rules of holiday schedules are simple, but must be enforced:

  • Absolute fairness in terms of entitlements. Those with outstanding leave may be given preference, if they haven't been on leave for a while.
  • Clear understanding that if necessary, some staff may be required during the holiday period.
  • Give the option to staff to sort it out among themselves who's on leave, and when. This is often a lot simpler.
  • Make it clear that if they can't arrange who's staying and who's going, you will. 

Creating a reserve staff for the holiday season

You need to be sure you can cover the holiday season, so you have to have at least some definite attendees lined up, even while everyone else is deciding.

There are usually a few people in any workplace who prefer to take their leave off season. Some travel overseas, others simply prefer not to be on holiday during the peak season. These people don't need to be persuaded to be on duty, and when you've identified them, you can estimate what sort of coverage you'll need.

If you've got a shortfall of people, you will need to tell the undecided staff well in advance that only so many people can go on leave at that time.

Despite natural issues, staff can usually organize themselves very well regarding holiday season leave, most of the time. You may be required to step in at some point, but you can also act as a mediator, suggesting options.

Important: The necessity to have people on duty will be understood, but any perception of unfairness won't. Be consistent in your decisions at all times.

The "insoluble" situations

Every so often, you'll find that people can't really avoid their commitments. You've got some options here, some of which require extra work on your part, but will reduce tensions and soothe injured feelings. 

Check out the possibilities of getting relief staff: This may not be possible, but if you can do it, you've solved the problem. 

Create an on/off roster: Staff can be present when required but absent when they need to be on leave: Arrange a mix of leaves so everyone can be where they need to be.

Note: Make sure everybody knows when they're supposed to be on duty, if using a mixed leave roster. If you don't, it can get messy.

If necessary, you decide: Stick to your rules, and be consistent in your decisions.