First come, first served, it can work, but it can end up not being fair if it means that some people turns in their holiday requests very early each year and thus reserve all the prime vacation slots months in advance and never have to share the burden of coverage with others.
Whatever system you end up with, if you do end up needing to deny some vacation requests, make sure you do the following: 1.
I manage a team of 22 that is responsible for supporting clients by phone and email.
The company is closed on Christmas, the day after Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Year’s Day, so nobody is expected to work those days.
If you do need to deny some, it’s perfectly reasonable to do it based on seniority.
You can also ask people to submit their first and second choices for time away, and use seniority to bump people to their second choice if needed.
Tell people as soon as possible so that they can plan accordingly. Be apologetic about it and openly appreciative that people are willing to pitch in to make it work.
That doesn’t mean that people will be thrilled about it, but seeming callous and unconcerned will make it go over worse. Do what you can to make being in the office during the holidays more pleasant for people — bring in food and find other ways to show appreciation that they’re there.
And if you can, try make sure that everyone gets at least one of those weeks off if they want it; it’s going to breed resentment if some people get two weeks off while others get none.
A caution about using seniority as your system: If you have low turnover among your most senior people, this can lead to a situation where no one else can ever get the time they want, year after year.
However, of our 22 people, we’d want at least 12 in the office the rest of Christmas week and 16 during the rest of New Year’s week. Ask people to submit their vacation requests to you ASAP so that you can determine if you’ll be able to grant incoming time-off requests and still have sufficient coverage, or whether you’ll need to modify some of them.I’d tell people ASAP what you said here — that you need to have at least 12 people in the office December 22-24 and 16 in the office Dec. Explain that if you’re not able to get enough coverage, you might need to deny some requests, but that you’ll do your best to avoid that happening.