HR & Management

Is your HR team expecting a "Nightmare Before Christmas"?

4 min read

23 November 2015

For many HR departments, December and managing the Christmas holidays period can turn into a nightmare.

The first dread for many is the end of annual leave year. For those HR Managers still using spreadsheets or paper forms, this will mean a laborious end of year process that often takes days to calculate. 

The inevitable reporting ensues focusing on who did and didn’t take all their annual leave, how much sick leave people have taken and who (if anyone) is allowed to carry over their leave for the next year – and in many companies, this is largely done manually. 

The thought of all that administration is a burden that is no doubt pressing on hearts and minds at this time of year. You have our sympathies. 

That leads to the second source of nightmares for the HR team: annual leave. All of a sudden, everyone wakes up to find it’s December and they haven’t used all their holiday entitlement. 

It’s often only absent mindedness rather than deliberate, but nobody wants to lose their leave if they can’t carry it over. 

A battle ensues amongst employees to race the seasonal sleigh and get their request in first – and where clashes follow, particularly when there is a “no carryover” policy, the HR Manager is expected to juggle the roles of Mum, Judge and Boss in one. 

Of course, HRs can just give in and let everyone take a year’s worth of annual leave in one month, but you risk leaving the business short staffed – and instead of unhappy staff, it’s unhappy managers. 

Either way, HR becomes the fall guy and if some of your team have to work over the season (like those who work in hospitality or care), you need the wisdom of Solomon to determine who works what shifts!

As if HR teams are not already stressed enough, those seasonal sniffles and the fallout from a month of partying combine to create a perfect storm for overworked HR teams, giving them additional absence challenges in an already stressful month. When they finally settle down in front of their Christmas Dinner, those managers will have earned their entire salary in one month.

There is however a speck of light from Jack’s pumpkin in the midst of the Christmas HR nightmare. 

Lots of the above challenges can be made a lot easier with cloud based software. Users of our software have the end of year process reduced to a click, you can use trigger alerts to remind staff to spread their annual leave throughout the year, and better absence management systems usually result in fewer sick days.

However, the end of year is always going to present a challenge for HR. I for one will be raising a glass to the people-people who are often the glue that holds a business together in the seasonal season. To quote Tiny Tim, “God bless them, every one!”

Adrian Lewis is an absence management expert at Activ Absence.