Planning for the Holiday Season

Shawnee Love   •   November 9, 2018

For some reason, when I turn the calendar to November, I am reminded there are only two months left in the calendar year.  Only 2 months left to accomplish all I wanted to do this year personally and professionally.  While the countdown to my favourite holiday season also begins in November (and makes this epiphany more bearable), November is when I become keenly aware of how fast the sands of time are running.

On the business side, I have only 2 months to figure out how to accomplish the remaining priorities before the end of the year, so the first week of November is often a flurry of planning activity.

It is also when I have clients calling about the holiday season because its a great time to plan for the business’s holiday schedule.  Unfortunately, we can’t just default to what we did last year, because Christmas and New Years Day statutory holiday(s) “move”.  Last year, Christmas was on a Monday, a convenient day of the week when it came to holiday closure. Most businesses closed on Christmas Day and were open again on Boxing Day (unless you are one of those lucky Ontarians who also get Boxing Day off).

But this year Christmas (and New Year’s Day) are on Tuesday, so organizations are having to decide whether to:

  • Close on the Tuesdays (and probably work half days on Monday because people will want to leave early), or
  • Close on Monday in lieu of Tuesday (only a good idea if most of the employees want this or you risk a mutiny).

They also have to decide how they will be operating between Christmas and New Years.

If you work retail, the days after Christmas are some of the busiest shopping days of the year so closing is typically not an option. But for many employers, customers aren’t calling between Christmas and New Years and as such, approaches I typically get asked about are:

  • Closing up shop for the time in between Christmas and New Years.
    • E.g., in 2018 you would be closed from December 25th to January 1st inclusive (closed for 6 weekdays, 2 of which are stats)
  • Cease serving customers or producing products but do annual maintenance, upgrades, and/or inventory counts.
    • E.g., closed to customers, and only certain employees (or outside service providers) work during this time
  • Keep open with a skeleton crew.
    • E.g., have only a couple people work during this time and usually ask for volunteers who are willing to do it
  • Keep open with reduced hours.
    • E.g., have the team work but on shortened days or a rotation of reduced schedule for employees.

If you have any plans to change company’s operating routine, the time to communicate is now!

Your employees will appreciate knowing the schedule so they can plan around it. They will also want to know if they will be paid for the days (e.g., as a gift or Christmas bonus or stats only) and how they can get paid for any non-paid days.  In these cases, I have seen employers encourage employees to use their accrued vacation or banked time, and even in some cases to work additional hours to build up time so they will have banked time to take off.).

Whatever you decide to do, it is super important to communicate your decisions as early as possible, so employees have time to prepare for the impacts of these decisions both personally and within their work.

Don’t forget to tell your customers about your holiday schedule as well.

Any questions about how to plan for your holiday schedule, we are here to help!