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8 Ways To Manage Holiday PTO and Avoid Staffing Stress

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Most of your staff will use PTO to take time off over the holidays. Managing your critical staffing needs over the holidays requires planning. Requests for PTO days should be accommodated as much as possible, with an eye to ensuring enough of the right staff is present to keep the company operating over the holiday season.

A Team Approach to PTO
Every employee planning to take many days or weeks off during the holidays should work with another team member to cover their basic duties. Hold a meeting several months in advance to discuss the holiday schedule and PTO, so all your staff is aware that their duties must be covered by another team member who can cover their responsibilities during their time away.

Put it in Writing
Your PTO policies must be in writing to avoid confusion and staffing problems during the holidays. These policies can be reissued as a reminder a few months before the PTO requests start rolling in. Ask each employee to acknowledge that they have received and read the policy.

Team Vacation Calendars
Your employee vacation calendar will reveal the holes in your staffing needs so you can address them as early as possible and avoid a last-minute staffing disaster. Each team should have access to the calendar and work out how duties will be covered.

Holiday PTO Reminders
Ensure you issue email reminders about holiday PTO several months before the dates arrive. You need these issues sorted out before employees begin making their holiday plans, and reminders are critical.

Conflict Resolution
If you have any PTO conflicts that impact the employees and your company, hold a meeting to sort them out. Most people are willing to be flexible when they understand the challenges to the business and to other employees and can establish a holiday schedule that works for everyone.

Incentives
Offer appealing incentives to employees who are willing to work over the holidays. The types of compensation you offer could be bonuses, shorter work hours without a reduction in pay, additional PTO, or other incentives to make working over the holidays more appealing and worthwhile.

A First Come, First Served Approach
This approach can be workable when all employees are aware that if they do not request PTO early enough, their request could be denied. As the PTO calendar is filled, some days are no longer available, as the maximum number of employees have already been approved for PTO.

Keep Your Legal Ducks in a Row.
It is critical that approval or disapproval of a request for PTO is not based on favoritism or discrimination. Your HR department must be aware of religious holidays and when requests for PTO for these holidays arrive, you are not at risk of being accused of religious discrimination if a PTO request is denied.

PTO is a benefit, not a right. However, some legal issues can come into play for PTO over the holidays. All employers must be fully aware of state and federal laws regarding religious discrimination. Employers cannot treat an employee differently due to religious affiliation, coerce any employee to participate in religious activities, or base a PTO decision on any discriminatory factors.

Your Business Bottom Line: Employee Retention
Happy employees are less likely to leave. Offering sensible, easily understood policies for PTO over the holidays and throughout the year and offering benefits such as health insurance are critical issues in employee retention. If you are planning to update or enhance your health insurance, our local agents can review your current plans, and offer alternatives that may be less expensive and provide better benefits.

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