Halloween may be over for another year, but for HR the run up to Christmas can be something of a nightmare.

For many, it is seen as a time to unwind, and get ready to spend time with close family and friends. For HR, however, Christmas is more often a time to be wound up as they struggle to deal with the fallout from the yearly rush to book time off, manage time off requests fairly or find extra pairs of hands at what for some companies, is the busiest times of year.

warm and cosy fire

Christmas holiday blues

When it comes to booking time off for Christmas, there are three types of employee. There’s the employee who was organised enough to get this booked well in advance (we love them). There’s the employee who also wants to take Christmas off, but didn’t get around to booking holiday till the last minute. And then there’s the employee who has lots of holiday entitlement still in hand, perhaps because they feel they have too much work to do, or fear burdening their colleagues while they’re away.

Where January 1st signals the start of a new holiday year, and ‘use it or lose it’ policies are in place, they’ll feel compelled to book holiday before the end of the year.

All this leads to an unhappy time for HR (and line managers) who are faced with having to tactfully explain to employees why they can’t take the time off they’d hoped for, or trying to find enough staff to cover unexpected Christmas shortages.

If HR were hoping for some downtime relaxing with the family and getting in the festive mood, this is going to prove quite difficult.

Take control over holiday bookings with Cezanne HR

Modern Cloud HR systems like Cezanne HR that include managed payroll let you take back control.

For example, as Christmas is fast approaching, start by running a report in Cezanne HR to see which members of staff have holiday left over. Encourage these employees to deal with their unused holiday now rather than leaving it any later. Do this by posting a notice in your shared HR portal reminding all employees that the end of the year is near and they need to book holiday soon.

Alternatively, use Cezanne HR to create emails directed at those employees yet to book their full entitlement.

Talk to your line managers and make sure they’re making the most of the manager dashboards and team calendars in Cezanne HR. If you’ve got great users, get them to share their experience. Lunch and learn sessions work wonders, and gives you a chance to provide guidance on the absence management software.

With Cezanne HR, people professionals and line managers alike have greater visibility over employee holiday. With this knowledge comes power – the power to manage resources in a much more effective way.

Prepare for next year

With Christmas staffing challenge fresh in everyone’s minds, January is the perfect time to encourage everyone to turn over a new leaf….

How about…

  • Using Cezanne HR to identify late holiday bookers and ‘always in’ employees and gently encourage them throughout the year to take a break.
  • Revisiting your ‘use it or lose it’ policy. It may put less pressure on December if managers have the flexibility to allow their reports to carry over more holiday if it’s needed. Remember that in the UK, full-time workers must take at least 4 weeks of statutory leave during the leave year (and part-time workers the pro-rated equivalent).
  • Posting holiday updates in your HR portal reminding employees that they need to book Christmas holiday well in advance – make sure your absence policy is available via the portal too. Employees don’t always remember that business needs come first, and their manager can turn down their holiday request.
  • Scheduling reports on outstanding holiday entitlements that are automatically sent to line managers. That way, even if they’ve got the same information in their dashboards, you’ll be nudging them in the right direction.

Here’s to a happy and relaxing Christmas

Sue Lingard author image

Sue Lingard

Sue studied Personnel Management at the London School of Economics before taking on management roles in the travel, recruitment and finally HR software industry. She's particularly interested in how technologies enable HR teams - and the people they support - to work better together.

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