As the owner of a small business, you have a lot of freedom in deciding how things are going to be run. If you wanted to, and you felt it wouldn’t impact your business negatively, you could give yourself and your employees a winter break, elementary school style! Each business tackles the holidays a little differently when it comes to taking some time off in a season infamously known for traveling away from the office. We asked 15 of our small business experts how they tackle their holiday schedule and this is what they had to say:
1. “I have had my business for the past 15 years and basically we handle holiday schedules in a flexible way. Since some of our clients are not really expecting or taking time off for the holidays especially if it’s a new PR client and we are gearing them up for a New Year, January 2015 launch, etc. I make sure that some of my employees are still on accounts even remotely if they are awayfor the holiday and or I take up the slack and handle the accounts during the holidays. Some employees want to take a full holiday during the holidays and other employees just want 3 to 5 days off and come back to work.” –Jerome Cleary, PublicityandMarketing.com
2. “As a creative agency, we are always on — except for when we are off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. With our national client base, we do have to provide coverage, so we all check in via email one time / day during that time and handle only what cannot wait. But we have found that our clients respect our time off and, often, take a cue from us to give themselves permission to step back from the rat race and focus on that special time of the year as well. For any time off requests before or after the holiday closure, it is on a first-come first-served basis, with employees often coordinating the scheduling among themselves before making their requests.” -Denise Blasevick, www.theS3agency.com
3. “Because of the nature of our business, the company’s operations departments need to have 50% of the staff present during business hours. It’s up the department staff and manager to decide who works what holidays. The sales and marketing side of the business has a little more flexibility and most potential clients are not doing much business the last two months of the year. Overall, the company has a generous holiday paid time off schedule – 2.5 days off for Thanksgiving, 2.5 days off for Christmas, and 2 days off for New Years.” -Jennifer Daugherty, Remi
4. “Like a lot of retail businesses, from October through December we generate a large percentage of our annual sales; order volume skyrockets. Since we make the items we sell, we have to go into overdrive to keep the lead times low and make sure everything gets delivered in time. This requires an extraordinary amount of effort. For the weeks leading up to any holiday, we restrict time off for everyone. As a small business, everyone plays a critical role to get the job done, and we let them know that’s required of them when they are hired. We’ll work until the last possible day to ship and then maybe take a day off right before the holiday and then a few extra afterward to recover. We take more time off during the slower times of year after June and before October.” –Andreas, Metal Pressions
5. “We need our office covered throughout the Holiday Season so we operate a ‘skeleton staff’ so people can spend time with their families during our quiter periods.
We request two weeks notice of holiday plans and allow only one person off per dept.” -Jonathan Rolande, House Buy Fast
6. “Ours is a bit complicated, in that we’re a 24/7 call center. Holiday leave requests are put in at least a couple of months in advance for the winter holidays, and are partially seniority based. Managers and certain staff are granted paid days off on specific holidays.” -John Monarch, Direct Outbound Services
7. “When the holidays roll around for us, people definitely take the time off that they need. That said, we’re a very remote-friendly company (we have a few remote employees as well).
Even if you want to take time off or just work from home to be with family during the holidays, we make it super easy to do so by utilizing tons of different tools. It’s all part of our core values, this one falling under being Entrepreneurially Generous to our customers and employees. We want people to know that they can work from wherever they need to because we all have families and obligations during the holidays.” -Taylor Aldredge, Grasshopper
8. “At Smooth Fusion, we close for three days around Christmas Day. Additionally, we provide employees with five floating holidays per year, which can be saved for the holidays if desired. Our clients tend to be fairly quiet during the holidays, but we do have people on call 24 hours a day, even during the holidays. Therefore we have to coordinate time off requests to keep required coverage.” -Todd Knowlton, Smooth Fusion, Inc.
9. “We are based in NYC but as our business is an online one, we need to make sure that even during the holidays, our clients from around the world continue to receive full service and great customer support.
We built a support team large enough to allow a 24/7 service on regular days and on the holidays.
However, in order to allow our support team members to enjoy the holidays and get time off if they wish, we create a more flexible schedule and shifts during the holidays. Also, usually our support team are working from our offices but in order to be as flexible as possible, we allow them to work remotely during the holidays.” -Moran Barnea, IM Creator
10. “For Thanksgiving and Christmas, all employees get a standard 2 days off. However, what makes us unique is that we operate on a 4 day/week schedule every week – meaning each employee gets a 3-day weekend year-round! We’ve found this results in happier employees overall. Regarding personal time off, this is usually not a problem and almost always granted within reason.” -Arlissa Vaughn, AEGIS Power Systems, Inc.
11. “There are certainly different hours of operation during the holidays here. You might be viewing this from a US perspective, but it could be interesting to compare that to holiday schedules in other places around the world. Colombia shuts down for most of the month of December, and it is difficult to get anything done during this time.” -Jeremy Hand, Emerge Global Advisory
12. “I close my office the last week-10 days of the year to give my staff some much-needed downtime with their families.
I started doing this five years ago and it has made an enormous difference in the way my staff, and even more importantly, their families, view them working at my agency. An insurance agency can be a stressful place to work, and at the holidays very few people need our services unless they need to make a payment or change something on their policy.. We email our clients to let them know we will be closing, generally around December 20, and will be returning January 2nd. I set up our holiday voice mail and vacation emails to let clients know that we will be closed, but that they can contact me on my cell if they need help. I have had no push-back from clients; often they comment on what a great idea that is.
I take a lot of time off myself (about 2-3 months a year) and I don’t want my staff to be resentful, so I give every possible holiday off. I am also very lenient with time off. We have a policy in my agency that if you are having a bad day, just call in and let us know. I don’t want my staff to have to pretend that they are ill, and I don’t allow people to come into the office sick; that is instant termination because all that happens is the rest of us get sick! Sick days are separate from vacation days.
The result of this is I have extremely loyal, hard-working staff, and their family members have actually said what a great boss I am. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty.” –Susanne Romo, Romo Insurance Agency
13. “At Thriving Firm, we take a company-wide two weeks off at the end of December into January. The office is closed at the time. The remainder of the year, along with traditional holidays, we work in a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) permitting each of us the flexibility to manage our own time in and out of work. This keeps us energized, refreshed, and focused.” -Matthew Iscoe, Thriving Firm Symposium
14. “We take off the holidays all together. This year we are off from December 20th – January 5th. Then July 1st – July 6th will also be off. No use being an entreprenuer if you can’t spend time with your family during the holidays.” -Andrew & Mary Ross, Sensory Swim
15. “During the holidays our company will remain open for the most of the time except on the actual day of the holiday. As a business owner it is important to give enough thought to see if the type of business you are in should or should not be open during the holidays. In our case we still have many clients that need immediate servicing or who need to purchase coverage in a certain time frame. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t make accommodations to our employees especially if they have plans of going out of town or have certain family traditions, so long as other employees can be available for necessary adjustments.” -Mack Dudayev, InsuranceChance