Leap Day is Not a Holiday – Never Has Been

Did any of your employees not come in for work on Monday, February 29th, because leap year added an extra day to the year?  Does your employee handbook mention Leap Year explicitly?  Does it outline what is expected on the 366th day of the year? Or did your employees simply plan on being at work like any other normal (365 day of the year) Monday?

While I would have anticipated the latter, I was surprised to find a number of no-shows in the workplace this Leap Year Day.  In interviewing different businesses I work with, the rough number was two out of five employees chose not to come in on Leap Year Day.  I can’t assign any particular features to the issue such as specific ages, genders, or education levels yet, but there were numerous reasons given – from I didn’t know if I’d be paid for my time to how was I to know what to do to it was never addressed in the Employee Handbook – and a surprising lack of apologies.

After my Leap Year Day experiences at the start of this week, I have three take-aways.  My first is immediately actionable.  Go right now and update your employee manual to very specifically mention a Leap Day policy.  You may want to go the extra mile and add in other possible day-off warranting holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Fat Tuesday, and Boss’s Day. My second take-away is this issue could easily have been avoided with a conversation on both sides of the management team.  It could be as simple as a paid time off policy update at the start or close of the calendar year. If you’re refreshing your policy manual, why not bring this up too?

My third take-away focuses on creating an environment of trust and respect in the work place. Both of these features need to be present in the behavior of each member on your team.  You need to have a balanced approach to promoting employee self-worth and value together with reaching your business and profitability goals.  In a recent presentation I gave on overcoming multi-generational work force challenges, I shared with the audience that the majority of the younger generation work force is actively looking for worth-oriented recognition, streamlined advancement, and a culture focused on team building, all focuses that were not required (and demanded) in the work place by previous generations.  This dramatic shift in work force culture is resulting in trust issues on all sides and, if left unaddressed, will easily results in unpredicted, damaging moves – like an entire team not arriving for work on a busy Monday morning.