I’m sure by now you’ve been getting requests for time off over the holidays. Now is the time to step into high gear and put together the holiday vacation schedule.
The closing schedule should already be in place, issued at the beginning of the year. The fairest way would be to ask all employees to submit requests for days off this week, ranking their preferences in order. Some employees may be flexible in their requests, just needing time off to shop and prepare for the holiday but not necessarily tied to a specific day. Others have to travel or have company coming, so specific days are important. Your extra effort to accommodate individual needs will be appreciated.
From there, you can see which days you can readily grant and which days you would be short staffed. Using a temp or overtime to supplement staff would be a good gesture if you can manage it (financially, that is). If not, discuss with the staff why you have to limit the number of people off on a given day. They understand even if they are disappointed. The sooner you set up the schedule, the better.
Now is also the time to make plans for closings for 2008. The “basic” six holidays are: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Next year is a Leap Year, so there will be an “extra” work day – your payroll budget (and revenue budget!) should account for this. Christmas and New Year’s Day 2009 will be on a Thursday, leaving the day after as an “orphan” day. You should decide now whether to be open that day at all, or only for sick call only, perhaps opening part of the day. There will be two potential four day weekends back to back, coupled with the unusual winter colds, and you may be busier than normal. The nature of your practice helps you make the decision. Practices that follow patients on an ongoing basis, as opposed to consult and refer back, are more likely to need to open. Even if you close, it may pay to have some staff in the office to handle the volume of calls and to support the physician on call and handling hospital patients.
Once your 2008 closing schedule is set and approved by the physicians, put out a memo to physicians and employees with the closing schedule. This enables people to plan, and removes any last minute questions and pleadings.