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5 Tips To Manage Employee Holiday Scheduling Without Affecting Business

Illustration of an employee in front of a spiral calendar. In front of him is a cup and holiday scheduling related elements such as a notification pop up with a location pin, and a time clock above the calendar
6 min read

As the holiday season approaches, the significance of an efficient employee schedule becomes increasingly important and challenging. Managing limited employee availability and handling numerous time-off requests during this busy period can be quite challenging. Holiday scheduling need not affect your business if you plan it effectively and well in advance. 

An employee schedule plan extends beyond staffing. It entails holiday pay rates, effective communication of availability, and the management of advanced time-off requests as well. 

In numerous industries, holiday sales play a pivotal role. The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales can constitute up to 30% of annual sales for certain retail sectors like jewellers. 

Whether you operate a bustling retail business or a plumbing service, being well-informed about your staff’s availability is paramount to keeping business profitable even during the holidays. 

However, there’s good news for you this festive season. This blog will delve into simple steps to help you streamline your holiday scheduling, ensuring a smooth and stress-free process.

Why Is An Employee Schedule During Holiday Scheduling Important?

Creating a shift-based employee schedule is challenging year-round, and the holiday season adds an extra layer of complexity. While employees naturally desire time off to celebrate with their families, holiday scheduling becomes crucial for several reasons within the workplace. 

It ensures that business operations run smoothly while considering employees’ needs and maintaining fairness in workload distribution. Here are some key reasons why holiday scheduling is important:

  • Fairness and Equity: Proper holiday scheduling ensures that all employees have a fair chance to take time off during holidays or vacations. This prevents conflicts and fosters a sense of fairness among the staff.
  • Employee Satisfaction and Retention: Employees appreciate having their holiday requests considered and granted. When their needs are accommodated, it boosts morale, increases job satisfaction, and contributes to higher retention rates.
  • Maintaining Adequate Staffing Levels: By planning holiday schedules in advance, employers can ensure that there are enough employees available to cover shifts and maintain productivity during peak holiday periods.
  • Avoiding Burnout: Holiday scheduling helps prevent employee burnout by allowing them to take breaks and recharge. This is crucial for maintaining high productivity levels and preventing absenteeism due to stress or fatigue.
  • Improved Planning and Organization: Having a clear holiday schedule allows managers to plan and organize workloads more effectively. It helps in allocating resources efficiently and ensuring that tasks are completed on time.
  • Compliance and Legal Requirements: Depending on the region or industry, there might be legal requirements or company policies regarding holiday scheduling, such as minimum rest periods or holiday pay. Adhering to these regulations avoids potential legal issues.

To manage holiday scheduling effectively, businesses often utilize employee scheduling apps or workforce management software. Scheduling apps benefits are manifold. They streamline the process, allowing managers to create schedules, track time off requests, and ensure proper staffing levels.

Features of Work Schedule App That Can Help In Holiday Scheduling

  • Vacation/Leave Tracking: Allowing employees to request time off and managers to approve or deny those requests.
  • Shift Management: Creating and assigning shifts to employees based on their availability and preferences.
  • Time Tracking: Monitoring employees’ work hours, ensuring compliance with labor laws, and managing overtime.
  • Communication: Providing a platform for communication between managers and employees regarding schedules, shift changes, and time-off requests.

Adopting a work schedule app not only simplifies the holiday scheduling process but also enhances transparency and communication between management and employees. 

Holiday Scheduling: 5 Simple Tips to Plan an Efficient Employee Schedule

Here are five simple tips for you plan an effective employee scheduling during the upcoming holidays-

Set expectations early

Establishing clear expectations early on is the initial step in creating an employee schedule plan. Begin by assessing your business requirements during the holiday season—is it a peak period demanding increased staffing or an opportunity to operate with a reduced workforce?

Once you determine your staffing needs, communicate with your employees, outlining both what is expected from them and what they can expect during the holidays. 

Develop policies and procedures surrounding vacation schedules and time-off requests. This may involve setting deadlines for time-off submissions or implementing requirements like each employee working at least one weekend a month throughout the holiday season.

Additionally, address potential conflicts in time-off requests by establishing criteria. It may include giving preference to employees who covered the previous holiday season or requiring availability for those with less than a year of service. Consider designating specific “blackout” days when all employees are obligated to work.

It’s crucial to implement these measures as early as possible. Knowing holiday dates at the beginning of the year provides ample time for planning and organizing your holiday scheduling effectively.

Pay holiday rates

To ensure you have adequate staff while vacation scheduling, consider providing holiday rates as an incentive. This involves compensating employees at a higher rate than their regular pay, such as 1.5 times or even double their standard rate. 

Using this approach, you can recognize the time they make to work on holidays. It can also encourage employees to volunteer for less desirable shifts, minimizing the risk of being understaffed during peak periods—such as New Year’s Day. 

In managing these aspects, employee time tracking software can be a valuable tool. It assists in monitoring employee work hours, calculating holiday pay rates accurately, and ensuring compliance with established scheduling policies. 

You can extend beyond monetary compensation to acknowledge your employees’ contributions during the holiday season. Holiday gifts, allowing remote work for added flexibility on certain days, or providing extra paid time off after the holidays are a few ways.

Consider hiring seasonal employees

If the holiday season brings a surge in business, temporary hiring of seasonal employees can be a beneficial strategy in your employee schedule plan. However, it’s crucial to establish clear holiday policies and scheduling expectations during the hiring process. Ensure that seasonal employees align with your business’s operational needs for effective holiday scheduling.

A well-structured onboarding process is equally vital for seasonal staff. While it may be adapted from the onboarding process for permanent employees, it should comprehensively cover all the information required for them to perform their duties effectively.

Similar to regular employees, providing seasonal workers with access to a work schedule app can better manage their availability. This allows for easy coordination of shift swaps and updates to the entire workforce, contributing to a smoother holiday scheduling process.

Schedule in advance

Despite all the necessary planning, setting up employees’ holiday schedules can be challenging especially if your business does so manually. Simplify the process by leveraging a time tracking software and employee scheduling app, which can offer various benefits:

  • Establish a clear understanding of everyone’s working hours.
  • Maintain records of work hours to comply with tax and labor laws.
  • Ensure accurate recording of employee hours.
  • Keep labor costs low by avoiding overtime and redundancies.
  • Provide employees with remote access to the staff schedule.
  • Facilitate the maintenance of a healthy work-life balance by enhancing time management skills.

Moreover, an employee scheduling app is valuable for managing your holiday PTO policy. These tools can significantly streamline your holiday scheduling process and contribute to the overall efficiency of your workforce management.

Another benefit of using an employee scheduling app and an employee time tracking software is that you can operate with fewer employees. Repetitive tasks, such as filling timesheets and payrolls can be automated with software, thereby saving you costs and productive time. Such workflow automation tools offer long-term benefits, not just during the holiday season.

Prepare for last-minute absences

Unforeseen absences are inevitable during colder months. While you can’t predict when an employee may be absent, having a backup plan in place is crucial. 

Consider adding an extra person to your staff schedule each week until the holidays conclude. This proactive approach ensures that there’s someone available to pick up the tasks if someone unexpectedly calls out. You can also offer overtime pay to employees willing to stay late as a solution to unexpected gaps in your workforce.

Flexibility is key with holiday scheduling, particularly if you’ve hired seasonal workers who may require more supervision. 

Understanding your team’s task list provides the opportunity to assess if tasks can be distributed more evenly. This flexibility not only aids in addressing last-minute changes but also creates room to give employees a well-deserved break during the demanding holiday season.


Holiday scheduling is a challenging task for business managers. You have to keep the business running while accommodating several days off. Creating your holiday employee schedule doesn’t have to be a source of stress. Consider the tips mentioned above to streamline the process and make it as hassle-free as possible. 

Planning and leveraging technology contribute to employee satisfaction and work-life balance. To further enhance the efficiency of your holiday scheduling, utilizing an effective employee scheduling app is a recommended initial step. 

Additional strategies such as hiring seasonal employees, and providing holiday pay or other benefits prove to be profitable. A staff schedule prepared well in advance is a key component of maintaining a harmonious and productive workplace during the festive season. 

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