Almost 80% of small business owners offer time off during the holidays. Here’s why you should too

Grocery store employee calling customers

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It really is the right thing.


Important points

  • Many small businesses struggle when workers take time off.
  • While it can be difficult to give employees time off during the holiday season, you should push yourself to do so.
  • You can manage employee time off by setting a vacation request policy and hiring employees who are flexible to cover shifts with shorter notice.

When you own a small business, you tend to rely on the staff you’ve worked hard to hire and train. Chances are your margins are tight and you can’t afford to hire workers who don’t have a full load to handle. So you’re probably dependent on a limited pool of employees to handle the many things that need to get done to keep your business running.

This could be especially true during the holiday season. Depending on the nature of your business, you may notice a spike in customer numbers during the holidays. If you run a retail business, between Black Friday deals, Small Business Saturday specials, and December sales, your store could be swamped by consumers looking for a bargain, and that’s a very good thing.

However, you might encounter some problems when it comes to managing your staff during the holidays. The holiday season is a common time for employees who wish to take some time off. And it’s also a time when you might really struggle in their absence.

But as difficult as it may be to give your coworker time off during the holidays, it’s an important thing to do. Here’s why.

It’s about showing your appreciation

Giving workers the holiday time off to celebrate and visit loved ones sends the message that you care about their happiness and helps them find a proper work-life balance. But if you’re stingy with free time during the holidays, you’re sending the message that you really only care about your bottom line. And that’s a good way to get workers to abandon ship.

In a recent Incfile survey, nearly 80% of small business owners said they give their workers time off during the holidays. So if you want to send the right message to your employees – and help keep your team members staying with you – then you should make every effort to be flexible with the holiday period at the end of November and December.

Well, that doesn’t mean you should just settle for being understaffed. Instead, have a backup plan.

For one, you can flexibly hire seasonal workers so you have people to fall back on when your core workers aren’t available. Even outside of the realm of workers taking time off for the holidays, this is a smart thing to do as you never know when a core worker might get sick.

In addition, you can set a vacation policy in advance, which will help ensure that employees only take turns at work. Let’s say you have a team of four employees plus yourself. Ideally, you don’t want more than one or two people outside at a time during the holidays. If two people request time off for Thanksgiving weekend, make it clear that they may need to work Christmas Eve so your remaining employees can have time off at that time.

do the right thing

It can be difficult to part with workers during the holidays. But giving them that opportunity is really the right thing to do. And it could save you from having to hire and train people again. So, if you don’t want to offer time off out of a pure heart, do it as a smart business move.

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