The Viking Blog

Christmas Holidays Across the Nation

Christmas Holidays Across the Nation

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time to catch up with your family and friends, while truly relaxing and enjoying the holiday season. However, each year, managers across the nation face one of their toughest challenges in making sure that as many people as possible get the time off they need.

Unfortunately, this year, as many as 1 in 4 office workers won’t be getting that time off. We surveyed office workers around the UK to see if they’re going to be enjoying the Christmas holidays this December, and found that those living in the North East, the North West, and the South East were having the hardest time getting their holiday requests approved.

Here’s how likely you are to receive the time off you need, depending on where you live in the UK:

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Our research also found that disappointment surrounding holiday requests often comes from an in-office bias towards upper management, as 46% of workers believe that colleagues in senior positions could be receiving preferential treatment when it comes to getting time off.

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When asked if they would change the Christmas holiday allocation process at their place of work, more than a third of those surveyed (35%) said they would; so we asked just what changes they would make. There was a substantial call for mandatory holidays of either 1 or 2 weeks around Christmas and New Year, so that all staff could take the time they needed to visit their family.

One respondent wanted:

“Compulsory shut down for a minimum of 1 week over the festive period – without affecting yearly quota – to allow families some guaranteed quality time at that time of year. For those in retail and other essential services this should then be offered as an additional 5 days to be taken at their will. There is too much pressure on the festive period being one of consumerism than that of spending loving time together.”

However, this may not be an option for all industries, as those working in areas such as the food industry have their busiest period in late December, working right up until Christmas Eve.

One source of contention was workers with children receiving priority for their holiday requests, with one office worker claiming that in their work place “priority is given to parents, as though those without children don’t have lives and responsibilities as well.”

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Balancing the requests of a large workforce can be very difficult, with many needing time for travel in order to see relatives, to take care of kids or to keep long-term arrangements they have made with others. To try and make sure everyone receives the time they need, we asked two HR professionals, Donna Obstfeld and Charlotte Sweeney, what they would recommend to help everyone make it home in time for Christmas:

Donna Obstfeld (FCIPD), Managing Director of DOHR, said that the increased diversity in the workplace may give an opportunity for organised cover to allow for more flexible working:

“With the increase in workers of different religions, some businesses will allow those of the Christian faith to take time off at Christmas and their non-Christian colleagues to provide the cover. This is usually a reciprocal arrangement for Jewish New Year or Eid for example. This is usually an unofficial practice rather than policy, but does allow staff to get time off when they need it.”

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Charlotte Sweeney, Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Expert at Charlotte Sweeney Associates, offered actions for employers and managers to try, in order to ensure time planning for holiday allocations is as smooth as possible:

  1. Encourage employees who work together and cover each other’s roles when off to discuss how they could share the holidays out, so that as many people as possible get some time off during the Christmas break. This will increase their engagement in the process, as you are giving them the responsibility to come up with the solution.
  2. Not everyone will get the time off that they want – if they don’t this year could you commit to them being a priority employee when it comes to booking time off the following year? This will increase the level of fairness in the process.
  3. You may have people from different religions in your team / workplace who are happy to work over the Christmas period. Could you discuss and agree on them working over Christmas and commit to giving them time off when there is an important religious or national holiday in their calendar?

No matter where you work, we hope you get the time off you need to travel home, attend all your family events, and, most importantly, have a very merry Christmas.

How do you get into the festive spirit in the office? Let us know on Twitter @Viking_Chat

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