Rush Hour, Holiday Rush

As the holiday season approaches, it is important to keep in mind things we are grateful for. Family, friends, and work of course come to mind. Many people see work as a means to support the other interests in life, an income to provide for ourselves and others. However, while our occupation does provide us with this opportunity, it also occupies a majority of our time. Work can provide stability to families and personal lives from a financial standpoint, but prove to be a significant obstacle toward emotional growth and relationship building at times. Today’s employee also faces the unique expectation of being available for constant communication with superiors and clients alike; regardless of time, place, or holiday season. Time is the often overlooked benefit that is irreplaceable, and employers must be especially cognizant during the holiday season.

The US ranks among the highest in average working hours per year according to a 2019 OECD study that has the US worker far above their European counterparts. While there have been some strides in reducing the burden upon employees over the years in the form of more flexible PTO and family leave, there are still potential gaps that have led 66% of American employees to report that they do not have a strong work-life balance. The strain of work on personal satisfaction is particularly strong among family-oriented employees who face a difficult decision between spending valuable time with their loved ones and committing more time to their work to ensure financial security for them. A growing policy that is intended to create more family time for employees is having “No Email Hours” outside of the office so that even those who are able to work from home do not have to be constantly interrupted or on edge about being contacted by their employer. This measure has even been proposed as NYC city-wide legislation in an effort to combat the demands of employers. Giving employees true control over their schedule and not intruding upon every aspect of their time is a benefit that shows the employer has true personal concern for their workforce.

The holiday season can be tricky because of the economic conditions that often result in increased business or responsibility for organizations with the added task of preparing for the new year to come. As a result of increased demand, approximately 33% of American workers reported having to regularly work on holidays or weekends. While some industries cannot afford to leave their work unattended, many corporate offices should work to provide their employees with meaningful time to be with their families during the holidays without the stress of work following them home. The federally mandated holidays may be seen to provide workers with an appropriate break, but oftentimes, people have to strain to travel to their families and prepare for celebrations without any time to rest without the thought of returning to work in a day or two depending on what day of the week holidays fall upon that year. An effective way to give employees a real break they can enjoy is to close the office or create a flexible work arrangement for the time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. This scheduling plan often coincides with a slow time for many industries and clients and also lets your employees know that you value their personal lives just as you value their production.

As you prepare for year-end reports and forecasting for the upcoming year, don’t forget to consider the importance of your employees’ time and happiness during the holidays. Do what you can to increase their time off during the season to make sure they come into the new year fully rested and rejuvenated rather than bogged down and frustrated from working while visiting with their families.

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