Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes.com former staff | Leadership
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and while most employees in corporate America have the day off to gather with friends and family to eat turkey, watch football, and prep for Black Friday shopping--those who work in the dozens of industries and jobs that don’t break for holidays will spend the day on the job.
For example, the medical and emergency service industry doesn’t shut down for Turkey Day (or any day, for that matter), so plenty of doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital employees, firefighters, police officers, and emergency dispatchers will be on duty tomorrow.
Those who work in retail stores or restaurants, reporters and others in the media industry, gas station attendants, utility workers, hotel and airport personnel, public transportation workers, and business owners, among many other professionals, could also be on the clock tomorrow.
“You won't find too many people who jump for joy when they find out that they have to work on a holiday,” says Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time. “It's not easy working when most people get to enjoy the day off. It involves a lot of sacrifice. It's one thing to volunteer to work on a holiday but unfortunately, not everyone has a choice,” he adds. “However, there certainly can be benefits to working on a holiday.”
What are those benefits?
“The first one that comes to mind is the financial benefit,” Teach says. Most companies will pay employees who work on a holiday overtime or perhaps even double-overtime wages, which can certainly help people in this difficult economy.
If you step up to the plate and offer to work a holiday shift so that others can spend the day with their friends and family, this could be extremely beneficial to your career.
“Nothing says, ‘I love my job’ or ‘I’m dedicated to my job’ like stepping up to work on a holiday when others may not be interested,” says Teri Hockett, the chief executive of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. “This provides an opportunity to be recognized by an employer for going the extra mile.”
A chance to be a problem-solver.
There are many situations that can come up during holidays, says Deborah Shane, a career author, featured writer, speaker, and media and marketing consultant. “It’s more hectic, merchandise gets sloppy, people can be testy. This is an opportunity to show patience and creative resolution skills, and be a source of calm.”
Extra vacation days.
If you work on a day when the majority of workers prefer to have time off, your employer might compensate you with extra vacation days, says Marsha Egan, a workplace and e-mail productivity coach, CEO of InboxDetox.com and author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence (Acanthus 2009). “Some employees really enjoy that opportunity.”
You can celebrate during off-peak times.
It might seem like a bummer to be in your workplace instead of with your family during a holiday, but think about it this way: you can just celebrate on another day, when there are “fewer crowds, travel is less chaotic and less expensive (from airlines, hotels, even gas), and there are post-holiday sales,” Hockett says. “You can then enjoy your days off while most everyone else is back at work.”
A chance to show off your leadership skills.
If the boss is off for the holiday, you might have to step up and assume some of his or her responsibilities. This can be a great opportunity to show off your leadership skills.
You’ll be seen as a team player.
If you have a good attitude about working on a holiday and you don't complain, this could go a long way toward having your boss see you as an employee who is a team player, Teach says.
You're helping others, Teach says. “You may feel better about yourself because you're assisting customers who need your help or you may be helping your co-workers and supervisors by pitching in and making their lives a little easier during an extremely busy and stressful time.”
Egan says she had a widowed friend who was a nurse, and she always worked on Christmas day because she wanted the other nurses to enjoy their holidays. “She looked forward to it every year,” Egan says.
“For some people, working on a holiday can be a great gift they give to others who really want to have special family time, and for others it’s a total burden,” Egan says. “It depends on your situation and your frame of mind. If by chance, you have been asked, or pressured, or requested to work on a holiday, once you have made your case to try to get out of it, accept your situation, and make the best of it. Being angry about having to work on a holiday surely will not help your career.”