6 Simple Tips for Dealing with an Understaffed Office

November 29, 2018 Staples Business Advantage

With job vacancy rates at record highs in some provinces, Canadian employers have to strike a balance between making sure the company has the proper coverage during the holidays and meeting the needs of employees who want to spend the holidays with family.

With almost 10 days lost per employee in 2017, businesses need to take extra care not to alienate workers who need time off while simultaneously ensuring customers get the support they deserve.

Here are some helpful hints to strategize holiday vacation schedules:

  • Consult the calendar. Many companies shut down on Christmas and New Year’s Days and the day before or after, depending on the day of the week. If these holidays fall midweek, you may need to stagger the schedule to accommodate employees who are traveling during the break.
  • Determine when you need coverage. Do certain operations have to be covered during this period? Will you close your offices? You can avoid having things grind to a halt by offering incentives to those willing to hold down the fort.
  • Communicate the company’s holiday staffing needs. Let everyone know as soon as possible what coverage is expected throughout the holidays. If your staff is clear on what's needed to keep the doors open, there will be less resentment as they make their own plans.
  • Be generous with vacation time. Most people are going to want the same days off, so consider alternatives to having them in the office. If you can't give someone the entire day off, consider letting them telecommute part of the day. Flexibility and understanding go a long way toward motivating your staff to be part of the solution.
  • Share the responsibilities. If you're requiring most of your staff to be in the office, then you'd do well to be there, as well. This isn't just about morale. Especially in smaller organizations, you'll need to provide a point of escalation for any issues that come up.
  • Rotate annually. Keep track of which employees worked which holidays so that you can rotate responsibilities from year to year. It’s an approach that promotes general goodwill and a sense of fairness.

If your company doesn't have a documented employee vacation policy in place, it's a good idea to create one. First, it's good to know what the rules are. Holiday vacation time is considered an employee benefit, so getting your policy in writing can even help you attract new employees.

References:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/03/13/labour-shortage-canada-job-vacancies_a_23384818/

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410019001

https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/C.R.C.,_c._986/FullText.html?wbdisable=true

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