Managing Time-Off Requests During the Holidays

What do you do when multiple members of your veterinary team all want the same vacation days? We’ve gathered a few tips to ease the stress of coordinating holiday schedules.
Amanda Carrozza
Published: November 18, 2017
Thanksgiving is upon us, and it kicks off the busy year-end holiday season. For any business owner or administrator, managing staff requests for time off during the holidays is challenging. It can be especially tough for veterinary hospitals because there’s no shortage of patients that require care and pet emergencies don’t stop just because the calendar indicates a holiday.

What should you do when multiple members of your veterinary team all want the same vacation days? How do you make the difficult decisions to manage the needs of your staff while maintaining productivity?

We’ve gathered a few business tips to ease the stress of coordinating holiday schedules so the only thing you need to worry about on Thanksgiving Day is whether to go for the pumpkin or pecan pie.  

Create a Policy You Can Adhere To
When it comes to vacation requests, some businesses opt to offer priority to senior staff members or those who’ve worked at the office longest. Others choose to operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Either way, choose a system that works best for your practice and make sure your staff is well aware of the policy.

Additionally, limit the number of staff members who can be out of the office at the same time. Having a transparent and fair policy that you stick to sets expectations.

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Set a Request Deadline
One of the best ways to manage your office successfully during the holidays is to plan in advance. Establish a deadline for November and December vacation requests, and make sure your entire staff is aware of the set deadline. This will allow you ample time to generate a holiday schedule that doesn’t jeopardize your hospital’s efficiency.  

Stagger the Schedule
To keep your practice running smoothly, create a staggered schedule that provides constant coverage while also providing employees with time off. One option is to create a morning shift and an afternoon shift that are covered by two different sets of employees. Another option would be to have employees work A and B shifts around the holidays. The A-shift people work Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the B-shift staff fill in the other days.

You may need to manipulate the above examples to fit your practice’s needs, but it is possible to strike a balance that benefits both you and your employees.

Offer a Holiday Pay Rate
If your practice is in the financial position to do so, provide a holiday pay variance or other employee reward for those who don’t take time off. Money drives some people, and this offers an incentive for staff members who opt to work on the most frequently requested vacation days.

Most importantly, once you create a policy, make sure it is well communicated to your staff and add it to your employee handbook where it is easily accessible to employees who have questions.

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