The holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year, and this year’s pandemic and political season means most employees are under even more stress than usual. Heading into this stressful and often busy time of the year, we need to be aware of the impact this can have on our employees. Even more than awareness, we need to be proactive in encouraging them to take the time they need this holiday season.
This holiday season looks different than holidays in the past, and uncertainty hangs over all the changes. Some people look forward to traveling with or to their families this time of year. If they still plan to travel, even the travel will look different. Some will be missing out on the usual travel or large family gatherings, while some will choose to go ahead with the gatherings. All these things add up to an extra layer of uncertainty, fear, concern, or grief hanging over an already busy and stressful time.
Many employees cancelled vacation plans earlier in the year as destinations closed and travel was either unsafe or impossible. Be aware that remote work for many has led to more hours worked or on call as there is less separation between work and home. As a result, most employees have taken less time off than in a typical year. Parents or grandparents may also be caring for school-aged children or overseeing their schoolwork while also trying to work remotely.
Employees who are extremely stressed or burnt out ultimately affect our businesses. We know that supporting our employees and giving them adequate time off benefits our business as they have the resources and energy to put back into their jobs.
Going into this holiday season, plan for your workers to take extra time off, either through existing PTO or possibly closing the office for an extra day or two and encouraging employees to take time away.
From the business side of things, canceled vacation plans and less PTO taken overall means a higher PTO balance for your company. The fourth quarter is often a time when there is less work to be done. As the year winds down, encouraging your employees to take the time they need also provides an opportunity to offset the PTO balance in a positive way, rather than a fearful way. This might mean creating a suggested schedule for people to take time sprinkled throughout the month or encouraging employees to take extra time off either side of travel plans in order to take any necessary precautions or self-isolate after potential COVID-19 exposure. Look for ways to benefit your employees by giving the time and space they need while also knowing it will help your PTO balance.
If you’ve never considered extending the holidays for your business as a whole, now is a great time to think about it. Especially if work is slow anyway, an extra day or two on either side of the Thanksgiving holiday or a few extra days at the end of the year will increase morale and lessen stress for your employees. In a year where everyone has worked hard in extra difficult circumstances, it is a great way of giving back to your staff.
Whatever you may decide it looks like for your business, time and space for your employees to celebrate and rejuvenate in the safest way possible is a necessity this year. After a year of uncertainty and grief, encourage your employees to take that time to step away, and honor that time by truly stepping away.
Need help determining how to manage additional holiday time off for your employees in an equitable way? Let’s chat!