The many surprising benefits to working over the holidays

Many businesses stay open throughout the holidays, and somebody has to work those shifts. It might seem like a total drag to be on the job on Christmas morning or New Year’s Eve, but there are advantages to working over the festive season.

I worked in a coffeeshop bookstore for a couple of years while I was in university. Both the store and the café remained open over the holidays, and I always worked those shifts. There was a familial, conspiratorial vibe to those of us who were on the job while everyone else was off sipping eggnog with their families.

I enjoyed that time of year. There was the crazy rush of Christmas Eve as frantic shoppers rushed in panicking over last-minute forgotten gifts. This was followed by the quiet calm of a sparse Christmas day as infrequent customers cautiously wandered in, surprised we were even open. It was a whole different atmosphere from any other time.

Other than the unique vibe that was distinct to that time of year, there were other benefits to working through the holiday season as well.

Advantages of working over the holidays

Extra shifts. It was an great time of year for picking up extra hours as much of the staff took time off for travel and family events.

Holiday pay. On the statutory holidays and for overtime, many workplaces pay time and a half on your salary or even double time. So, the money is good.

Better than average tips. The café staff – who used to grumble about the minimal tips people would leave for their coffee and sandwiches – would receive extra generous tips from their customers commiserating with them for working on a holiday.

My girlfriend at the time was a waitress at a high-end hotel bar. She used to make her rent for the month over just a couple of nights work during the Christmas season.

You look really good to your manager. Managers in retail and the service industry in general almost always say that the number one thing they appreciate in staff is the willingness to cheerfully show up and work the shifts needed. It’s not nine to five. Taking the hard-to-fill holiday shifts can make you a rock star to management.

You get first pick of the time off you want after the holidays. When everyone comes back to work with their post-festivities hangovers, you get to look forward to the time off you’ve earned. Travel is less expensive, the shops and restaurants are less crowded, and you’ve got pockets full of the cash you earned over the holidays.

Also, for some, work can be a great excuse to skip the holidays. Call me a Grinch, but there was a period of my early adulthood when trekking out to the suburbs for turkey with the extended family seemed like more of a chore than something to look forward to. Picking up the lucrative shifts was an easy way to get out of it.

The one major drawback to working through the holiday season? The incessant Christmas music on heavy rotation. Hearing the same two dozen songs or so over and over again for the entire month of December can be grating. But it’s worth it.

Happy holidays everyone!

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