November and December can be challenging for employers and employees alike. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can tire us all. The best way to prevent issues within the workplace is to re-invigorate your communication strategy, with a strong focus on policy.
Here are 10 year-end HR situations where proactive policy reminders can make an enormous difference.
1. Getting into the holiday spirit
The holiday spirit isn’t the same for everyone, with some employees firmly believing in no spirit at all. Although we’ve known employers to avoid conflict with a zero-tolerance policy for decorations, we recommend an all-inclusive and balanced approach. Review your holiday decoration celebration policies to ensure they treat employees fairly, and promote a balance between self-expression and respect for others.
The last thing you want to unwrap this year is an employee grievance. Check in with managers to make sure they understand your gift-giving policy to avoid any awkward moments.
3. Increasing illnesses
When employees travel to celebrate various holidays, they often bring germs home with them. Then again, sometimes they may simply stay a couple extra days and call in sick. Remind employees of how much sick time they have left for the year, your call-in policy and the importance of staying home when you’re contagious.
4. Holiday pay
It’s surprising how many employees don’t understand their employer’s holiday pay practices. Ease any potential anxieties by including the holiday pay policy on employees’ schedules or paycheck stubs to help everyone keep it straight.
5. Use it or lose it
Whether it’s taking advantage of insurance benefits or using vacation days that will not roll over, end-of-year deadlines often sneak up on employees. While there are always procrastinators, timely reminders help non-procrastinators stay on top of these situations.
6. Time off
With school closings, family commitments, use-it-or-lose-it vacation, expiring insurance benefits and flex-spend accounts, and flu season, the end of the year is filled with last-minute requests for time off and schedule changes. Publish your time off policy early and often through as many channels as possible.
7. Office parties
Year-end celebrations can open up a can of worms if employee behavior crosses the line. When you send out emails, invitations or reminders for office parties, include a link to any relevant employee policies, including sexual harassment, safe driving, the process for calling in sick and payment for sick days.
8. Holiday stress
Because of family and work obligations, the holidays can be extremely stressful. Normally calm and professional workers may crack under the pressure of high expectations and family demands. The holidays sadly can be a prime time for introducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Remind your employees of services and benefits available to help them cope with stress and other illnesses.
9. Bonus distribution
Let’s be realistic. Employee conversations about year-end or holiday bonuses start as soon as employees received their last year-end or holiday bonus. This means bonus rumors may have been swirling for the last 12 months. Counter grapevine chatter with a well-timed statement regarding the bonus policy.
Knowing there’s going to be travel, illness and personal event needs to miss time, employers are best served by involving employees in the planning for how work is going to get done, collaboratively: when are good times to meet as a group, sending better, more frequent update emails, etc. After all, the goal here is to reduce year-end anxiety. Plus, this can actually change behaviors for the positive into the new year.
Have a question about your HR policies or want a second opinion? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.