BambooHR Blog

5 Tips to Prepare for the Holiday Break

The holidays are a magical time of the year, filled with good cheer, close friends, time with family, and time off work. With so much holiday fun, you might feel like you never want the season to end. Unfortunately, time marches on and December will eventually give way to 2017. Use these five tips to prepare your organization for the holiday break, and you’ll free yourself to enjoy time away from work and start 2017 on the right note.

1. Time-off Requests: Tie Up Loose Ends

Paid time off is a fairly standard benefit, and, for most of the year, it’s probably a simple process: employees ask for time off after checking with their manager, and you grant it. Then the holidays come, and suddenly everyone starts asking for the same three weeks. You start feeling like the grandmaster of the Bolshoi Ballet putting on a production of The Nutcracker, only everyone is trying to exit stage left.

As with so much else, early and frequent communication is the key to scheduling time off. It’s important to develop a system before crunch time, so everyone is clear on who will be working during the holiday weeks. It’s also a great time to remind your employees to finalize their requests with you and with their managers. Along with this, make sure to give your employees confirmation that you’ve accepted or rejected their requests. You don’t want to end up explaining to a disappointed employee that a sticky note left on your monitor on December 21 isn’t enough to resolve a schedule conflict.   

2. Coordinate Access and Project Handoffs

As you provide input for projects in December, it’s important to bring up the reality of vacation time, especially when discussing deadlines. Plans that come to fruition in January may require work at the end of December, and you have an insight into who will be available. This becomes especially important for cross-department projects, where each manager might not know the plans of each person on another team. Sharing this information can help your workplace develop an appropriate holiday workload, so you’re not asking your employees to do an extra week’s work in order to take their time off.

3. Make an Emergency Contact List

While you need to give your employees time to enjoy their holiday break, it’s important to keep a chain of command ready, just in case of an emergency. Your employees need to know who to contact in IT if the server goes down during your Boxing Day sale, for example.

It’s also important to make sure that those who will be working during the holiday season have access to the information they need to do their job. This includes providing passwords, giving permissions for shared documents on the cloud, and sharing project details before leaving.

4. Promote a Clean Office Space

There’s not much  cheer in coming back from your holiday break on January 3 and finding that the crisper drawer in the breakroom fridge has mutated into a hostile, sentient life-form. Make sure people clear out their food before they leave, send unopened or nonperishable food from company parties or client gifts home with interested parties, and dispose of the rest.

5. Let it Go for Your Holiday Break

(Maybe I should include a trigger warning for parents here. Wait, too late.)

When you take steps to prepare in advance, it frees you up to enjoy your holiday. You can leave work at work, knowing that approving time off won’t lead to complaints about missed deadlines. You’ll know that your extra care will ensure that your employees will receive the intended benefits of your paid time off program: mental rejuvenation, reduced stress levels, and increased productivity on their return to work. And you can relax, knowing that they will come back with an increased sense of loyalty to your organization for recognizing their full value: both as an employee and as a human being.

On behalf of all of us at BambooHR, I’d like to wish you a very happy holiday season. Next week, we’ll be announcing a hiatus for our blog and giving you a chance to win prizes with a reader’s survey during your holiday break. Let us know what you think. We hope to hear from you soon!

BambooHR is the #1 HR software for small and medium-sized businesses. We set you free from spreadsheets so you can do great work.

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