The “holiday week” is upon us and as the hustle and bustle reaches it’s peak, contact centers are faced with one common challenge. Everyone wants time off. Scheduling time off in the contact center is always a hot topic but never more so than during the holiday weeks of Christmas and New Years. Agents want time off to spend with family and friends, time off to shop, time to sleep, time to cook and all of the above. The challenge of course is that there will almost always be more people interested in taking time off during the holidays than what the contact center can afford. Agents also want to schedule time off for the holiday week as far in advance as possible. I’ve seen agents literally break down and cry if they weren’t able to secure the holiday week off at least a year in advance. Suffice it to say, its one of the most desired weeks to take time off and everyone wants in on the action.
So, what’s a contact center leader to do? Well, as with many things in the contact center, there isn’t one set answer that works for every environment. There are a variety of approaches used in the industry to address the holidays including annual bidding for time off based on seniority or other factors, voluntary sign-ups for people who want to work and even drafting people to work based on a rotating schedule of who worked the last major holiday. It’s also common for contact centers to pay a premium for people who work on the holiday. In some cases, other incentives are used on top of the pay-premium including full holiday meals, daycare for the day, extra time off at a later time and whole slew of gift cards, presents, games and prize drawings.
These are just a few examples of programs used to administer holiday scheduling but I am sure there are many more out there in the industry. I’d love to hear from some of you on this. How far in advance do you allow your agents to schedule time off for the holidays? What methodology do you use to determine who gets to take time off and who has to stay and work? What do you do in your contact center to incent agents to work on or around major holidays?