In some countries holidays may not be celebrated now, but later in the year. Whenever you may have a holiday period you will almost definitely face challenges getting your project to continue working through the holidays.
Why working over the holidays isn’t good
Here are a few reasons why I don’t like working through holiday periods.
- Our employees are usually tired after working through the year and are looking forward to their holiday break and an opportunity to rest. They deserve a break.
- Our employees have a right to spend time at home with their family. Official holidays and festivities are often a time for the family to be together – some family members travel great distances to be with their family at these times.
- Employees forced to work over these holidays often face an unhappy family which causes tension, poor morale and employee unhappiness. There is a saying a happy wife means happy life. Certainly a happy family is definitely a happy life.
- Productivity is low in these times as workers are thinking of others on holiday and generally have low morale.
- Safety is impacted due to workers not concentrating on their work.
- We normally have to pay overtime rates to our employees, which costs more money – normally money not budgeted in the project price.
- High absenteeism over this period may mean a critical worker such as a crane operator is absent which can have a snowball effect on a team’s productivity.
- Some suppliers and subcontractors may be closed which will impact work than can be done.
If you have to work through the holidays be prepared
If you absolutely have to work the project through the holidays then consider the following:
- Ensure you have the client’s or owner's permission to work.
- Check that the project won’t impact neighbours or break local noise prohibitions on the holiday.
- Ensure that key people will be available – there’s nothing worse than having 90% of your team arrive at work, but the crane operator or excavator operator aren’t available so operations cannot continue as normal and time is wasted.
- Check that there will be sufficient supervision on the project. I’ve found that often workers are on site but aren’t supervised properly because senior staff aren’t at work, or are sitting chatting in the office. If anything arrange extra supervision.
- Over festivals and holidays workers may be more inclined to consume alcohol or take drugs so ensure alcohol and drug testing procedures are in place and zero tolerance is enforced. Drugs and alcohol impair judgement and negatively impact productivity.
- Ensure that the project has sufficient materials for the work that has to be done, or make arrangements for suppliers to stay open.
- Often Head Office may close over these periods, so it may be necessary to make additional arrangements to ensure your hourly and weekly wage earners will receive pay for this period.
- Ensure that support staff are available – these may include mechanics, safety officers, quality and testing people, etc.
- Try and set specific targets that must be completed in this time. Teams with specific goals are often more focused.
- Make arrangement for the workers who worked over the holiday time to have time off at a later date. Everyone deserves a rest.
- Ensure subcontractors who are required are committed to working over this period. Again it could be disappointing if, say, your teams were all at work but the reinforcing or scaffolding contractors weren’t available. There would probably be little progress you could make.
Working over the holidays is often counterproductive, costs money and often achieves little. However, if you have to work it is best to be prepared so that you maximise productivity and aren’t adversely impacted by factors that could have been avoided if proper planning was done before hand.
Don’t let working through holidays become a habit or a norm. Plan your projects to take holidays into account.
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