I work as an administrator for an accounting firm. Each December we seem to be understaffed due to vacation time to handle year end and month end client responsibilities. We are working to create a restricted vacation policy for the period of 12/15 through year end. There is no motive behind this other than the fact that we’re an accounting firm, and by the nature of our business year end and month end responsibilities must be met. Do you have any suggestions for a fair policy?
Yes, HR gets whatever they want off and the rest of you have to suffer! Ha! Ha! Oh dear, I’ve had a little too long on vacation. (In fact, I’m actually tired of having fun. Well, having fun and cleaning out the basement.)
Yes, you see, my company shuts down between Christmas and New Year’s so coverage isn’t a problem, because we’re all out. But, we’re not an accounting firm. So, let’s talk about a good policy.
Wait, let’s ask a question. Why aren’t your employees meeting their month end responsibilities? Because that’s what I really wonder. In my set of beliefs, it doesn’t matter what days you take off, you schedule your vacation around your work responsibilities.
I think you need a culture shift. Not that I’m advocating people selling their souls to the company. Not at all. I’m advocating people recognizing that their clients–their responsibilities–are important. If all your clients are taken care of, take a vacation. If not, well, you get to work!
But, then you could argue, what about administrative and support staff? They can’t control what the actual accountants do with their clients and if there is no one to make copies then you’ve got troubles.
I also understand that clients are procrastinators and you can plan and plan and plan and promise your mother-in-law you will be there (and perhaps your mother-in-law will call you to tell you that it might be a good idea to bring a blanket for the baby because you, of course, wouldn’t think that snow=cold and that babies need to be kept warm, but I digress), but the client will still call on December 23 with new requests and when you say, “is this everything?” they will say yes, but on December 31, they send you new “updated documents” via courier. So, yes, it’s always going to be a problem.
But, this is predictable, so again, I have to go back to the old “you work when there is work to do.” Which stinks. So, don’t work for an accounting firm.
But, I haven’t given you any new and exciting vacation policies. I don’t have great ones. You can always do it by seniority, but if you have low turnover it makes the new people feel unappreciated and bitter. You can do it first come-first serve, but then you have people requesting vacation time for December in January and it becomes a big mess.
You can also limit December vacation altogether. Or close down December 24-26 and say that’s it. Then clients know as well that you won’t be available.
If I had to make a policy I would do it on a rotating basis. I would figure out the bare minimum of staff needed during December 15-31, and then have the other spots available for vacation. If you got to take vacation this year, next year you are last in line for vacation spots. You also limit the number of days they can take during that time period–3 days, or 5, so that more people get the opportunity to take off.
It’s not pleasant, but that’s why they call it work. Any other suggestions are welcome.