It’s hard to believe but somehow, Labor Day is almost upon us, and with it comes the question of whether you should be open during the holiday, and maybe more importantly, if you are, the question of how to deal with what could be some unhappy employees.
First things first: I've noticed an unfortunate trend lately in which more and more large retailers are staying open for important holidays, such as Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day, when, in previous years, they were closed. Clearly, their accountants crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that whatever bad may come from being open on these holidays (including some unhappy employees), the good of increased sales outweighs it.
But does this thinking hold true for small businesses? After all, we work with a much smaller group of people, sometimes even members of our extended family, and we know that finding competent employees is not always easy. This makes angering or losing valuable employees because of a decision to stay open during a holiday in order to make a few more bucks may seem a bit shortsighted.
But let’s assume that, for whatever reason, you need to stay open this Labor Day (or Thanksgiving, or New Year’s or whatever) – then what?
There are a few things you can do to make this a successful undertaking. Start with open communication. If staying open for a holiday is a new idea, begin by communicating clearly with your employees about your decision, help them to understand why it is important for the business, and then, and this is the key part, ask for volunteers to work that day.
Why would someone want to work on a holiday? Extra pay, of course. Whether you have to do it or choose to do it, paying employees a little extra for working on a holiday is a smart practice. It motivates employees and causes less stress among the rest of your team.
If being open for a particular holiday (or holidays) will be an ongoing practice for your business, then this idea of open communication is not just important around the holiday, but also from the beginning of a worker’s employment. According to the site Payscale.com, it is smart to have written policies that make employees aware that working on a holiday is a possibility.
You can use language like, “The Company may schedule work on an observed holiday as it considers necessary. Normally, work on an observed holiday will be paid [insert your pay policy here.] Employees will be given the option of [getting a different holiday off] at another time during the year.”
Beyond communication, another important factor to keeping your employees happy when you are open during a holiday is letting them have a say in the matter. For example, at the beginning of every year, you can go over your schedule with the team and indicate which holidays you will be open. Find out which one certain employees would like to work, and which ones they are opposed to working (someone might be fine working New Year’s Eve for instance, and many others not).
Then, well before the actual holiday, break up the schedule and give people options of which shifts they would like to work. Not only does this give people a chance to plan their holidays accordingly, but having a choice takes much of the sting out of having to work when everyone else is off.
Finally, one last factor is vital to successfully staying open on a holiday: Gratitude. Thanking employees who agree to work that day goes a long way.
Do you stay open during holidays? Share your thoughts below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.