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ResourceMFG | Manufacturing Workforce Specialists
The do's and don'ts of managing holiday time off

Just about every workplace in almost any industry is likely to see a huge surge in requests for time off as the holiday season approaches. After all, people want to take time off to spend with their families and generally get a little more rest and relaxation ahead of another new year. However, that wave of interest can create major headaches for factory managers, because there has to be someone on the clock to make sure you can keep hitting deadlines.

How can you simultaneously handle all those requests, stay on task and keep your employees happy? The following tips should help:

Do: Alternate between major holidays

Many workers may want to take some time off around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that might not be feasible for your manufacturing efforts, according to United Concordia. If not, you would be wise to make it clear that this is an either-or scenario; if you work Thanksgiving, you can have time off for Christmas, and vice versa.

Don't: Be too strict

On the other hand, depending on your production schedules, you might be disinclined to give out too much time off in the first place and keep more people on the clock to fulfill orders, United Concordia said. This is a temptation you should strive to avoid unless you absolutely can't, because not getting time off around the holidays can really dent employee morale.

Do: Convey expectations to workers

The more you can do to get out in front of these issues and let employees know what your plans are for granting time off, and what's expected of them in terms of compliance and even just getting requests in, the better off all involved are likely to be, according to Insperity. When there's ambiguity, it can lead to confusion or frustration for employees, and headaches for managers. 

Don't: Let employees wait for the last minute

This is something you probably do anyway, but it's a good idea to make it clear to employees you won't be able to grant last-minute requests for time off unless it's an emergency, Insperity warned. Obviously if a family member is sick or some sort of pressing issue arises, that's one thing, but if someone lets you know two days before New Year's Eve that they'd like the day off, you probably shouldn't grant that request.

Do: Use your best judgment

This is a situation where you probably aren't going to make everyone 100% happy with your decisions, but you should certainly strive to make sure you do things fairly and use your best judgment to dole out time off, according to ERC. As long as you make sure you are open about how decisions got made, there's a reduced likelihood for hard feelings.

Don't: Make it purely seniority-based

While many companies offer senior workers first choice of time they can take off throughout the year, that shouldn't apply during the holidays, because those workers are likely to vacuum up all the spare time you can give, leaving less tenured workers with few or no options, ERC advised. Instead, it's probably better to go with a first-come, first-serve approach.

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