9 Steps for Peaceful Holiday Scheduling

Holiday Scheduling Blog

For hourly employers, ­­it is definitely not the most wonderful time of year. On top of the added stresses of hiring seasonal employees, creating seasonal schedules provides more of a burden. To minimize the risk of dampened morale, unhappy employees, and even legality issues, it is imperative to develop preventative measures to minimize scheduling issues. Here are 9 steps for peaceful holiday scheduling.

  1. Plan early. As mentioned in our previous Blog, always plan and be prepared for what is ahead. Holidays will always be an upcoming challenge for you. So will summer and back-to-school months. When you hire on a candidate, ask them what days, times, and holidays they would be willing to work. This can later avoid accusations of unlawful time off requests for religious-based lawsuits (Federal law states that you must make a “reasonable effort to accommodate employees sincere religious beliefs,” which means you must try and accommodate their time off requests for religious holidays). Also, be upfront and clear with your employees. Set clear expectations of black out days where no one gets to request time off.
  2. Don’t assume everyone wants to take time off. For some, like students back home from school break, the holidays allow for extra shifts, which equates to extra money in their pockets. Don’t assume your single workers don’t want to take time off, or that those with families want more time off. Most employees know their holiday plans in advance, so ask your staff to submit their time-off requests a month (at least) in advance so you can schedule accordingly.
  3. Release schedules for busy weeks well in advance. Create and give your employees their schedules early to allow flexibility for schedule adjustments – like shift switches and covers.
  4. Make note of seniority statuses. To be fair and avoid issues of demoralization, consider who has been at your company the longest and ask them what holidays, if any, they would like off.
  5. Consider who Has worked or is scheduled to work other holidays. Another fair tactic is to prioritize workers who have worked certain holidays previously, or is set to work a holiday already this season. This gives you reason to explain why one worker is getting the time off they requested over another.
  6. Be direct with seasonal employees. Your seasonal staff is there for just that – to keep you prepared for the holiday rush. Be upfront in your seasonal job descriptions and the number of hours, days, and times they are expected to work (we talk about this in more detail in our Guide to Seasonal Hiring).
  7. Try not to schedule consecutive shifts or coinciding shifts to the same workers. Not everyone wants to work all closing shifts, and especially shifts that coincide, like closing late one night and opening bright and early the next day. This is a great tactic to keep in mind for decreasing your turnover and retaining loyal employees.
  8. Alleviate the strain and spread out shifts. Breaking up long holiday shifts into smaller shifts evens out the strain. Also, utilizing shorter shifts is a way to monitor busy and slow times. Overstaffing and top-loading certain shifts can decrease profits, and make for unhappy employees (splitting tips with more workers means less money in their pockets too). Be flexible if it does get busier than you expect (you can utilize our “On Call” feature for times like this!) Or if it is slower than you expected, cut people and let them go home early.
  9. Incentive those who do work those holiday shifts. Incentives are a great way to attract, retain, and keep your employees happy. We are in one of the tightest labor markets we have seen in decades, and incentives make your brand stand out from the rest. A common incentive many companies offer during the holidays is time-and-a-half pay to those who work extra holiday hours/ shifts, but be wary as that can become expensive very quickly. You can also offer gift cards, more time off during regular seasons, priority pick on the next schedule, or even a small bonus to employees who work unattractive holiday shifts.

Do you have any holiday scheduling tips to share? We would love to hear from you! Comment your thoughts below.

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