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
And then there are the adjacent
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
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
To Your Success,
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
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