Whilst many businesses close for Christmas allowing employees to spend time with friends and family, there are many that remain open and careful Christmas rota planning is essential to avoid a potential staffing headache. Some sectors of the UK, like the hospitality industry, experience their busiest time of the year at Christmas. For others, such as the emergency services and domiciliary care sectors, it’s business as usual, as they still have others to care for. Many employees within these sectors will know that there is an expectation to work at Christmas. Whilst some may not mind working, others are not always so willing to work over the festive period and it is important that employers can balance the needs of the business without staff feeling unjustly treated.
5 Key Tips for Effective Christmas Rota Planning
- 1. Get Ahead
Organising the Christmas rota should begin in plenty time, the earlier the better and it should be clearly communicated to employees. Once staff members have made plans for Christmas, many excuses can be made, or attempts may be made to avoid working over the period. However, if you start planning early people can plan their lives around the Christmas rota, rather than the business drafting the rota around the staff.
- 2. Get Staff Members on Board with Rota Plans
You can always start by asking for volunteers and preferences of shifts. If there are enough willing to work over Christmas, there may not be a need to ask those less willing. If there are not enough volunteers or the number of employees doesn’t allow, then employees who would prefer not to, may need to work. This may include an employee who has not worked on Christmas day for several years, but others do it every year, this can be highlighted to them to raise the issue of fairness within the team. If possible and to reduce unrest, you could discuss the shift pattern, which they would prefer to do, and try and work with the staff rather than planning the rota and discussing it with them afterwards.
- 3. Try to be Reasonable
Try not to dictate the rota to staff, as it may lead to employees taking time off sick or potentially behaving in a disruptive way. It should be completed through consultation and agreement in order to achieve the best, and most reliable rota. Listen to their concerns or problems. If shifts can be moved around because of certain circumstances, that’s preferable than an employee coming into work either in a disgruntled manner, or failing to attend work at all. If the shifts are through agreement, then all staff are more likely to be reliable in their attendance over the Christmas period. Even once a rota is set, an employer may experience employees wishing to swap shifts/days between themselves, it should be clear that such changes need to be with the agreement of management, as this saves any confusion, as in the event of a no show, it prevents a situation where employees claim they had switched shifts/days with another employee and the employer is left not knowing who to believe.
- 4. Christmas Bonus & Benefits
For those who attend the unsociable shifts, it could be worth implementing a bonus system and additional remuneration or even additional paid leave, in order to persuade employees to complete the shifts. Whilst some may consider it a bribe, or being held to ransom, it is a way of acknowledging the fact that those shifts are difficult to fill and the company appreciates the employee working the shifts, when they probably would have preferred to be with family or friends.
- 5. Have a Contingency Plan
It’s always worth having a backup plan, in case an employee calls in sick, there’s an emergency or an unplanned situation. Organising ‘reserve’ staff members in advance can relieve the stress of attempting to resolve a problem on Christmas Day, and provide security for a business or organisation over the festive period.
With careful Christmas rota planning staffing issues over the festive period can be minimised. In some industries reliability can be a problem, but by following these 5 key tips, hopefully these issues can be resolved. Wirehouse clients should contact the HR Advice Line if further HR guidance is needed.