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Holiday Time Off: How to Manage Schedules

Leadership suggestions to keep morale and engagement up before the New Year


Dubbed the "most wonderful time of the year," the holiday season often brings an abundance of family gatherings, friendly celebration, gift exchanges and travel to visit loved ones. However, if businesses neglect to plan, the holidays can become the least productive time of the year, with sparse offices or distracted employees.

To avoid a loss in efficiency while managing an increase in time-off requests, employers may consider implementing the following practices:


Before the busy holiday approaches, management should clarify policies and share expectations regarding time off. Proactive, clear communications can prevent difficult conversations or hurt feelings if an employee's request cannot be accommodated. Employers may even consider sharing written copies of office policies with each member of the team ahead of the holidays to increase awareness. This document should also include any blackout dates related to project deadlines, proper protocol for requesting vacation days and office closure dates.


The temptation to give in and let your attention wander to holiday shopping or winter vacation planning rather than focusing on work tasks may prove strong. To keep workers on task during the workday and life overall morale, management may allow team members to take breaks to accomplish personal to-do list items. Leadership may also consider hosting a holiday-themed group activity, such as voluntary gift or cookie exchanges to foster goodwill and team spirit. Bringing the festivities into the workplace can increase employee engagement, leading to greater focus on work-relate responsibilities.



Many companies slow down toward the end of the year. If flexible,business leaders may consider closing their offices the last week of the year since clients are likely to take time off as well. While not all industries or organizations slow down during this time, businesses can still offer increased flexibility by creating a shorter work schedule during the holiday season or allowing employees to work remotely. If managers are unable to give staff time off, they may consider offering comp days to those who work on holidays.

Niki Jorgensen is a manager of HR services for Insperity, a provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information, call 800-465-3800.

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