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Survey Reveals Many Employees Taking Time off during Holiday Season

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1217homespunweb.jpgRISMEDIA, Dec. 17, 2007-In a month filled with several major holidays including Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, the halls of offices everywhere are not only decked, but very, very quiet.

According to “December: Vacation-heavy Month Light on Attendance,” a new survey conducted online by Harris Interactive® and sponsored by The Workforce InstituteTM at Kronos® Incorporated, more than half of all full-time employees surveyed plan to take time off in December.

“Perhaps more than any other month, December is recognized as one where many people take vacation and even while in the office, are often times focused on non-work related events,” said Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute. “From holiday parties and ‘Yankee swaps’ to team lunches and dinners – the festivities of the month definitely carry over into the workplace.”

Holiday greetings and no Monday meetings

This year in particular, with both Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 and New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, falling on Mondays, many of those who are employed full-time are planning to make long weekends out of both. Sixty-three percent of employed full-time survey respondents plan to take the day off on Dec. 24, with 49% of these having the day off as a holiday and the rest (14%) planning to take it off using paid or unpaid leave. Slightly less – 53% – are planning to take the day off on New Year’s Eve day, with 36% of these having the day off as a holiday and the rest (16%) taking the day off using paid or unpaid leave.

It’s the busiest season of all

With such high levels of planned absenteeism, some employers have taken to giving employees the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. Eighteen percent of survey respondents work for employers who close during the entire time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Regardless of whether or not their places of work close down, 32% of respondents said they typically take the entire time off between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. The reasons for which those employed full-time typically take time off during December are not surprising. The most frequent reason cited is to spend time with family (52%), followed by preparing for the holidays (31%), and shopping (21%).

No time for wasting

Among those whose employers offer paid time off, 27% are not allowed to carry over any paid time off from one year to the next. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they typically take time off in December to use their allotted days off before year’s end, a practice sometimes referred to as “Use it or lose it.”

“For many organizations, difficulties arise when there are large numbers of unplanned absences that occur,” said Maroney. “Employers who don’t allow employees to carry paid time off into the new year should expect significant absences in December. They should look for ways to deal with it earlier in the year – whether by bringing on additional seasonal help, or encouraging employees to schedule time off throughout the year.”

Calming the chaos

Among adults employed full-time, only 20% said they use an automated system or software to submit time-off requests, meaning that the vast majority are submitting their requests for time off in some other way (e.g. verbally or in writing).

“It was surprising to see such a small percentage of respondents use an automated system for time-off requests,” said Maroney. “Automating this process can help organizations to plan better, reducing human error and confusion when it comes to scheduling absences and giving organizations a better handle on what their absenteeism looks like – not just in December – but over the course of the whole year.”

For more information, visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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