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Have your employees pre-booked their hangover days?

The party season is coming

Excitement is building in workplaces around the country as we approach the party season, but if this is a busy time for your business, or if you provide a 24/7 service, then worrying about staffing levels over the next few weeks may be keeping you awake at night.

For businesses in the retail, hospitality and care sectors It can be tricky enough to sort out the rota for weekends throughout the year, and as you turn the clocks back in October there is no escaping the fact that your employees are fine tuning their plans for celebrating Halloween, Fireworks Night, Beaujolais Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Oh – and there’s the works Christmas ‘do’ some time in December.

The Christmas rota

You’ve already sorted out the Christmas rota though, right? If not, or if you still have gaps to fill, then act now to put this in place, along with all the rotas for November, December and the first week of January, if you can.

Do not expect this to be easy. Some of the reasons that employees give for not being able to work on key days during the festive season may be genuine and very compelling. Think about how you might respond to some of these situations, all of which I have had to deal with when advising nursing home managers.

‘I can’t work on Christmas Day. I have children.’

‘I’m not working on New Year’s Day. I worked it last year.’

‘I can’t work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. There are no buses running.’

‘I have a zero hours contract. I’m not available during Christmas week.’

‘I can’t work on New Year’s Day. I will have a hangover.’

‘If you put me on the rota to work, I will call in sick.’

A problem shared…

The best advice that I can give is to communicate with your employees early, and involve them in working out a solution to the problem. Try to anticipate some of the difficulties and think about ways that you may be able to work around them. In the end you may need to make some decisions that won’t be popular with everyone, but at least you will have listened and done your best to accommodate employees where you can.

Once the rota is in place, be clear and consistent about how you will deal with the inevitable requests for changes, and how you will follow up on any absences.

Here are some ideas for ways that you may be able to make things a little easier for everyone.

1. Ban all but exceptional annual leave requests over the festive season
2. Operate split shifts on Christmas Day (4 hour shifts)
3. Set up lift sharing for staff working on public holidays
4. Make sure that employees working this year will have time off next year
5. Review your incentives for working on public holidays and other key dates
6. Ask for volunteers – some employees may want to work on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day
7. Over-staff by one on each shift, to allow for sickness absence
8. Research your options for using agency staff – just in case
9. Make the special days special for both clients and workers
10. Set an example – turn up and do your bit – on Christmas Day for sure

Be clear. Be objective. Be fair. Be consistent.

Posted by Christine Rimmer on 29.10.15

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