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Deciding Who Has to Work on Holidays



Author:   Glenn Shepard
Date:   August  19,  2014
Category:   Management


Salisbury, NC August 26
Anderson, SC August 27
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Dear Glenn,


I've been named Department Head by default and have been learning how to be a supervisor by learning from my mistakes, attending leadership seminars, and reading your newsletter.

      My staff members are getting their work done in a timely manner, but the office chatter is getting out of hand.

    Some of their conversations last ½ hour.

    How do I encourage them to get back to work without disrupting the peace and harmony in the office? Dish out some “tough love”, Glenn!


Judi in Jasper, IN



Dear Judi,


The answer to your question is the same as the answer to what to do about people texting their kids at work or spending too much time in the restroom.

      You can't follow people into the restroom and time how long it takes them to answer the call of nature.

     Always equate behavior to performance, and focus on results. If they're doing everything they're supposed to do, as well as it can be done, and in a timely manner, they can chitchat all they want.

      If they're not, it doesn't matter what the reason is. They're getting paid to do a job they're not doing, and this is where performance evaluations or the progressive discipline process come into play.

       Thanks for your question.


Glenn in Nashville, TN

Click the red button to submit a question. If yours is selected, you'll win your choice of the "I'm the Boss, Not the Babysitter" or "Work Is Not for Sissies"  coffee mug.

One of the more controversial decisions managers have to make is who has to work on holidays.


The biggest one is Christmas Day. If you’re in the U.S., Thanksgiving comes in a close second.


And then there are the adjacent days.


According to a 2012 survey by Harris Interactive, 38% of full time American workers took December 24th off and 28% took December 31st off that year.


That same survey also found that 68% described December as business as usual, 17% as their busiest time of year, and 15% said their workplace was a ghost town in December.


It’s understandable that people want to visit out-of-town family at Thanksgiving, and be with their kids on Christmas.


But there’s a “dark underbelly” to this that seldom gets mentioned in public.


Many people spend Christmas and Thanksgiving sitting around the house, entertaining relatives they don’t really like, so bored that they sleep through much of it.


A lot of them would be happier working, just to avoid having to be around family members they can only take so much of.


Several managers have told me about employees who raised a ruckus about having to work on Christmas Day, only to discover that their religion doesn’t even celebrate Christmas.


Other managers have found that while blood’s thicker than water, money’s thicker than both.


The manager of a Nashville waffle restaurant told me that because Christmas is their busiest day of the year, they used to pay triple time for it. They then dropped it to double time, and eventually to time and a half. Because servers routinely take home $300 in tips for the day, they had no problem getting employees to volunteer to work on Christmas Day.


No matter how fair your selection process is, people will complain about working on holidays. If your company is open on these special days, let people know what your selection process is (seniority, lottery system, etc.) and then stick to it.


This is part of being Firm, Fair and Consistent.




To Your Success,



Glenn Shepard




P.S.  For those who like numbers: The Harris Interactive survey also found that 26% of businesses surveyed were closed the entire week between December 25th and January 1st .





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