Every holiday season I see people villainize retailers, manufacturers, and many businesses for their holiday work practices. “They should let their employees enjoy time at home during the holidays!” That is generally the message people convey. I don’t have an opinion for or against the practice of working on holidays – there are already so many shift workers that are essential to the functioning of our society working on holidays that I see there are many ways to help employees get time off with family.
How do our first responders, hospital workers, utility workers, airport security, and many more balance stressful jobs with family life? The right work schedules facilitate that process. Schedules that offer more consecutive days off or rotations with a predictable day off patterns where family events can be planned in advance are the primary keys to work/life balance. These types of schedules tend to maximize rest so that they can enjoy time off with family. Sometimes schedules can offer the same amount of time at work, but with shorter rest breaks that make it seem as if the employee never gets time off. The key is striking that balance not just in the schedules of those critical first responders, but for all shift workers.
The average hard-working American (really anyone in the world) depends on every dollar they earn every week. Any time off can have a negative impact on their financial condition. That is generally made harder by the stress of gift shopping for the holidays. From this standpoint, I applaud companies that make every effort to provide work for their employees even on a holiday. Many of the best companies are able to create schedule solutions for all their employees to not only work but get plenty of days off as well. Those days just may not fall on the exact date of the holiday. But that’s okay as long as employees know well in advance (the time is predictable), it is plentiful, and family events can be planned to take advantage of that time off.
This holiday season, be sure to thank all those employees working on holidays. If you’re an employer think about what you can do to run your business and plan for people to have time off. If you are working this holiday and you are thankful, spread the cheer. If you are working and would prefer not to work, maybe you can convince you employer to hire someone like me to help them create schedules with better work/life balance. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!