In the Trenches: Choosing Company Holidays

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on November 28, 2012
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As someone who spends every waking minute working on building his business, the idea of taking “company holidays” seemed somewhat foreign. I just worked … all of the time. But when I started to hire employees, I had to decide which, if any, days we would be closed and develop an official company policy. I was surprised to find that there isn’t much official guidance out there on this.

There is no rule regarding which holidays a company needs to honor. The U.S. government generally does not require businesses to grant any paid time off. However, considering that I would rather not have people quit out of frustration, I wanted to have a fair policy. 

I could have adopted all federal government holidays, but that’s a pretty long list (10 working days). I don’t know any small-business owners who honor every federal holiday. Instead, I took what I thought was a pretty standard list based on my previous experience and then tweaked it a little.

Before I started my own business, nothing annoyed me more than having to work (for my previous employer) on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The first thing I did was include that as a holiday. With date-based holidays such as July 4 and Dec. 25 that fall on a different day of the week each year, I figured I would play it by ear. Some years, I might add an extra day off, if it makes sense. As the boss, I have that flexibility, but there’s no reason to codify it and add complexity.

I thought about getting cutesy. A company I used to work for gave people their birthdays off. I decided that was silly. If someone wants his birthday off, he or she can take paid time off.

I also have a long-running joke with a friend of mine where we celebrate United Nations Day every year (which is Oct. 24, by the way). I briefly thought about giving that as a holiday, but then I realized that (a) nobody wants that day off and (b) some people might think it’s some sort of political statement in support of the U.N. I have no interest in making political statements in my business.  Here’s what I settled on.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day and the day following
  • Christmas Day

So, for now, I think we have a fairly standard-looking holiday calendar with the only possible outlier being the day after Thanksgiving. I’m happy with it, but it might be something to reconsider each year, so I can make sure that it works for everyone.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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