12/19/2018 Molly Moseley

Shut it down! The office, that is

Across the country workers are preparing for the holidays. Are you wrapping up projects before taking the week off? Are you forced to use PTO before it expires? Are you out of PTO and will be coming into the office while most people are gone? Ah, the glories of being part of a skeleton crew.

Or, are you one of the lucky ones whose office completely shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day? Really, that’s one of the best holiday gifts an employer can give.

The last week of the year is typically not very productive for businesses. Of the offices that are open, they aren’t operating at 100 percent and neither are their employees. Is it really necessary to stay open just in case a client calls or one new deal comes through? Probably not.

I believe more offices should consider shutting down completely for the holiday break. Of course this isn’t possible for every organization — and it’s tough for the non-exempt, customer-facing workforce — but for salaried employees with standard operations, it’s certainly a possibility that has great return on investment for the company.

How can closing down shop have good ROI?

“Businesses that urge workers to take time off to relax, recuperate and recharge typically have lower health care, workers’ compensation and turnover costs, and they benefit from higher productivity and employee engagement levels,” notes a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article titled Employee Vacations Are Good for Business.

You’re likely already paying for employees to be off for Christmas and potentially Christmas Eve, too. Embrace the spirit of giving and allow employees the whole week off. They’ll get five days to themselves and you’re essentially only adding in three more paid days to what you’re already providing.

Here are some other important paybacks companies who do this enjoy:

It’s good for employee mental health: Employees get a well-deserved break from the stress of day-to-day life to enjoy themselves and their families. They come back in the new year healthy, refreshed and productive.

The SHRM article cites research that says encouraging employees to take time off at the holidays and throughout the year can reduce turnover costs up to one third!

The recruiting wars will wage on in 2019. Your company needs ways to stand out to get the best talent. Being able to tout a shutdown over the year-end holidays is music to applicants’ ears.

Holiday bonuses or a Christmas turkey are nice gestures. A no-strings-attached week off with zero emails flowing in allows people to truly disconnect. It shows employees you believe in work-life balance because actions speak louder than words.

Because employees are off at the end of the year, they can use their PTO for other important things throughout the rest of the year, whether for vacation, family time or illness.

You don’t have to pay office utilities for a week: Turn down the furnace, dim the lights and turn off the computers. Your utility bill will look great when you get it next month!

Bottom line: Your customers likely won’t be in their offices anyway, and if they are, they certainly won’t be eager to sign that record deal before the year’s end. Isn’t it time to consider closing the doors for a few days and giving your hard-working employees the time off they deserve?

Happy holidays!

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