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With the holidays approaching, I'm curious about how other companies are handling them.

Carrie Scott's Profile

We usually only give the actual day off (Thanksgiving, Christmas) but with Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, I know employees are going to want to take off the days surrounding it. How many days do you give employees off, and how do you handle additional PTO requests during the holidays?

Answers

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

Your vacation policy will depend on your industry. I have worked in entertainment (theater) and security (background checks). In both cases, the only days off were the national holidays - and if there was a show, some people didn't get that day off either. For other companies I have been at the decision has been made depending on the business. Some give extra days, others allow for swap time (take the day off before or after, and then work a pre-determined make-up day). If the company is open, it is imperative that your policy make sure there is some coverage in all the needed areas so time off requests have to be received and approved by a certain date. We also instituted an every other year poicy, so our loing termers couldn't request the holidays off in January and cut off access to newer staff who didn't start or know their holiday schedules until later in the year. Company policy has to be clear about how many people have to be in the office on a day before/after a holiday to avoid complaints about favoritism. For our hourly staff, if someone didn't have the day off as PTO or vacation and didn't show up, not only didn't get paid for their day off, they also didn't get paid for the holiday.

Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

I agree with Sara. The policy is crucial. We send reminders out in the summer about end of year holiday requests needing to be submitted early to avoid being declined. Each area has different requirements. Customer Service departments may require a minimum 80% of staff, where Accounts Payable might only need 20%.

And we also dock their holiday pay if they didn't have the day off as PTO and didn't show up. That seems to be common practice.

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

Our company gives Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving, and the entire week between Christmas and new year's off. We have relatively few other days off during the year, for a total of 10 company holiday days, but having these days off make a difference, we feel, in the well being of our employees and their attitude towards our company and how we treat "family" times of year. In addition, productivity and focus tend to wane at that time of year, so if we're going to give days off, why not make them days that would be low productivity and morale impairing to begin with?

The exceptions to the week of Christmas off are salespeople closing deals/making quota, and finance & accounting staff who are closing the month and the year. For those folks we encourage (really, strongly encourage) that they schedule with their managers that last week of the year and then take commensurate days off in the new year once clear of year-end.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

So Mark, I have to ask: In these days of multi-culturalism and political correctness, how does giving an entire week off centered around a single religion's second highest holy day play with the rest of the staff?

Realize, I'm not opposed to Christmas vacation and, I HATE political correctness. But, the truth is, where I work we have at least as many non-Christians as we do Christians and I could see such an employee friendly policy being thrown in our faces as discriminatory when we aren't as gracious with days off for Hindu, Muslim or Jewish holy days.

I've always resented the "accounting has to work holidays, nights and weekends due to YE, taxes, audits, etc." attitudes. IMHO, it's frequently a self-fulfilling prophecy more than a necessity.

In my own experience, a properly staffed and well organized finance department combined with realistic scheduling for work loads can minimize this kind of work time creep into "normal" time off.

Working for several, seasonal companies, ones who did 85% of their business in a three or four month period taught me this.

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

Totally fair (and funny) question. Our answer is that we don't equate it with a religious holiday. We put it out there as a well deserved year end break for everyone. And we happen to take it when the schools and most of the rest of the country take their breaks. So convenient :)!

Like you, I like to have my finance/acct'g organizations well enough organized and well-oiled so that we don't have to scramble like mad. There's still a ton of work around year end due to the rush of business and the year end closing processes, which do include some non-monthly tasks. But I take minimizing the crush as a personal challenge, and one that, if our organization is well run, that we should be able to manage and give folks quality time during year end.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Touche’!

I might add: We are a smaller, 24/7 operation. So, it is effectively required that we have at least a minimal number of staff on site at all times to ensure field operations are running smoothly and we provide customer service for extended hours. And, being smaller, every employee wears many hats. It is difficult to separate the employees into sub-groups with different attendance requirements. So, one might say we punish everyone for the actions of a few.

Some days, I am unhappy with our new, always connected world that makes no distinction between day and night or work days and personal days.

But other days, like when I need something at my local retailer Sunday afternoon to finish a home project before a grueling work week, I'm glad it's not 1968 anymore when all the stores were closed on Sundays. I'm also glad when I realize at 3:00 AM that I need to order my husband's Christmas present if I want to receive it before the New Year so I jump online and get going!

:-)

Topic Expert
Karoline Mello
Title: Director, FP&A
Company: Apollo Group
(Director, FP&A, Apollo Group) |

We have a clear company vacation policy and schedule which lists all of the days the company will be closed – for at least 3 years out. We have 10 company recognized holidays: New Year’s Day, MKL Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving + the Friday after, and both Dec 24th and 25th. You holiday policy should be looked at with your vacation and sick policy. Consider the total amount of time your staff should be eligible for based upon years of service.

Some companies provide ten or more vacation days balanced with only a week of sick and up to 3 weeks of vacation. Other companies have a set strategy to provide more flexible days and less pre planned holidays, like 6 major holidays and 5 weeks of PTO so staff can choose the holidays they want to observe. First decide what your executive management philosophy is and plan a strategy that includes policies for sick, vacation, holiday, or PTO.

(We are on a fiscal year, so when everyone saves their vacation to use the last week of December at my company it doesn’t impact our summer fiscal year end.)

Anonymous
(Ap) |

My company provides 10 paid holidays, min. Of 3 weeks vacation, unlimited sick days and the week between Christmas and New Years off for all employees. Our employees see that the company cares about them and there work family balance. By doing so we find that most of our employes go above and beyond to complete the work load. Not because the have to but because they want to. By giving to our staff our staff gives back 10x over. When home sick or even on vacation they don't mind having to check emails every few hours or joining a conference call if it's necessary. We also hire a temp to work the week of Christmas to insure mail and package delivery and in the event an emergency arises someone is able to get in touch with someone. You get what you give. Happy employees equal great work.

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