How to handle employee time during the holidays

Managers need to think creatively to maintain office productivity during the holidays.

The end of the year is an exciting time around the office.

With holidays popping up every few weeks, many employees will find it harder to concentrate as they think about spending time with their friends and family. In addition, the holiday season is a time of year when more workers will be taking time off than usual. It is important for business owners to have a clear leave management policy in place to set expectations for employee productivity during this time.

To maintain employee satisfaction throughout the office, managers should strive to facilitate a flexible work environment, prioritize creating a family friendly office and express gratitude and appreciation toward employees during this fun yet stressful time at work.

Establish a clear paid leave policy

While a company's rules regarding paid time off should always be clear, the holiday season is the perfect time to remind employees what the business' leave policy does and doesn't allow them to do. There is a high probability that employees are going to request more time off during this  period than at other times in the year. This means it's critical that managers balance the needs of the company while accommodating staff members to the best of their ability.

Employers should incorporate some flexibility into their leave policies during this time to help workers balance work-life responsibilities. This might include being more lenient about working remote or occasionally closing the office a few hours early  so individuals can get a jump on their personal obligations. Providing a generous policy will not only generate good will with employees, it's also becoming increasingly necessary for businesses to stay competitive.

According to a recent Bloomberg BNA survey, four out of five employers offered a four-day paid holiday weekend for Thanksgiving in 2016. Additionally, 84 percent of employers who do have at least a few staff working during the holidays are providing some form of extra compensation in the form of increased pay or extra days off in the future, according to the survey.

Make family members feel welcome

There's no doubt the holiday season places more responsibility on people from their personal lives. Kids go on break from school, workers have to get their gift shopping done, all while they're coordinating with relatives about who is going to cook the turkey for dinner this year. To take some of the stress away, employers should relax their rules about having family members visit. This might mean allowing kids to come hang out at the office or allowing employees to leave work a few hours early so they can pick up a visiting relative from the airport. Encouraging staff members to put their families first will pay off in the form of more dedicated and productive workers.

"Unsurprisingly, it is extremely difficult to balance work and family life," Ola Danilina, founder and CEO of PR firm PMBC Group, told Business News Daily. "If your employees perceive you as understanding, they will be more likely to be more loyal workers, making up for any time they miss for family matters." 

Companies that offer a generous family-leave package can distinguish themselves from a sea of competitors. This might include maternity or adoption leave or time off to care for sick relatives. Only 11 percent of businesses provide paid family leave right now, Business News Daily reported.

Give thanks to employees

According to a MetLife survey, despite the holiday cheer going around, 42 percent of employees say December is the most stressful month of the year for them, CNBC reported. To combat this stress, managers should make a concerted effort to express gratitude to employees for staying focused and producing quality work. This might include bringing in snacks and treats to the office to reward staff for their hard work.

In fact, 48 percent of employees said company-provided food increases their overall satisfaction at work, according to a 2015 study by food delivery service Seamless. For companies that can afford it, offering performance-based bonuses is another great way to express appreciation to workers and boost productivity in the office during this hectic time.

 Secova can help any company administer a leave policy that will work for both the business and employees.