America is a mixing pot of cultures and religions. It’s what makes our country what it is. Still, for some business owners, it can pose a challenge while trying to juggle the various religious holidays that happen this time of year, such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
For people with a strong faith, religion is vitally important. Denying them time off of work (or punishing them for taking time off) isn’t an option. Doing so will only harm customer service numbers and damage the brand in the long run.
Are you facing the struggle of needing to honor time off requests for religious beliefs but not sure how to keep your business afloat while doing so? Here are a few tips to keep your business running smoothly, while also giving your employees time off work.
But First… Don’t Ask for Someone’s Religious Beliefs
Asking for someone’s religious beliefs is against most HR codes. It’s a private question. Given the times we’re living in today, it is one that cannot be asked openly. Instead, the employee must offer up his religion during conversation.
This makes it harder to honor time off requests. You do not know what a person’s religious background is unless he tells you without question. Most people don’t because it’s considered taboo to talk about religion in the workplace.
To find out whether a time off request is for religious reasons, you must take a different route.
Gather Time Off Requests With Specific Reasons
One way to approach the subject of time off for religious requests is to ask each person to give a reason for needing the day off. This does not require any digging. You can be open and honest about why you’re asking for a reason without demanding the employee talk to you about his religious beliefs.
Religious holidays happen throughout the month of December and sometimes into January. If someone says he needs a day off for a religious holiday, you do not need to push further and ask any questions. You can typically verify that there is a religious holiday happening during the requested time period.
Balance Your Schedule Ahead of Time
Ask for your time off requests as far in advance as possible. Many people (particularly those who want time off for religious holidays) will have already submitted their requests. Some will not.
Asking for time off, especially by temporary workers, can be difficult. The person wants time off but is afraid to ask for it during this busy season.
Make it easy to balance your schedule and fill in any gaps by making it public using your online scheduling app. This makes it easier for people to see who is available to work, who is scheduled to work, and how many people are needed on each shift. The more transparency you provide, the easier it’ll be for people to make their requests for time off and then be there for you when you need them the most.
There is a way to balance being respectful of religious beliefs without overstepping your bounds. By making your schedule as available as possible and encouraging time off requests, your team members will feel more at liberty to ask for the time they need.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.