Dear Workforce How Do We Tell Employees That Paid Vacations Are Out

By Staff Report

Mar. 4, 2005

Dear Kiss:

We presume that you have carefully considered the implications (legal and otherwise) of discontinuing accrued vacation as an employee benefit. Our first suggestion: send someone you’re really mad at to make the announcement, and be sure to provide the person with a large object to hide behind.

Failing that, here are a couple of suggestions that may help.

Don’t wait until the last second to announce the change. You’ll fare much better by making the announcement as soon as a decision is reached and a comprehensive implementation plan is fully developed. And, taking a lesson from some recent CEO trials, be unfailingly honest about what you’re doing and why. You stand to gain nothing by waiting, waffling or fibbing.

Your plan must address the conditions necessitating your decision, alternatives considered, relative fairness, timetables for using up vacation time, and provisions for taking unpaid leave going forward (because people still will take time off). You must communicate these objectives with an abundance of credibility, too.

Face-to-face town hall-type meetings, preferably conducted by senior company leaders who finalized the decision, might be the best format. Even for those who feel comfortable with contentious issues and are adept at dealing with them in a public setting, a few practice sessions with some bone-honest coaching wouldn’t be a bad idea. The meetings should begin as soon as possible after your management signs off on the idea.

This will be a hot topic of discussion between employees and their families, so provide them with some written material to take home to facilitate discussion. Expect to field media inquiries about the matter. Your media-relations representative needs to be clearly identified and well prepared.

Finally, listen for unusual signs of employee discontent. Schedule an employee survey for 120 days after the announcement. In the meantime, ask members of your human resources and leadership teams to keep you apprised of what they’re hearing. Good luck.

SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors,Contented Cows Give Better Milk, April 7, 2004.

LEARN MORE:No Relaxation for Your Vacation Policies.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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