The 21st Allstate National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll recently reported that this year, 25 percent of American employees would be required to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Bloomberg BNA reports that one-third of employers will require at least some of their employees to work on the holidays. Is your business going to be one of them?

If so, you might want to take a moment to really evaluate the decision. There are some downsides to requiring employees to work on the holidays.

1. They may not accomplish anything

Let's face it, if an employee is working on the holidays he probably doesn't want to be there.

There are certainly some positions that are so vital that someone must fill them 24/7/365. The emergency room still needs nurses, for example. But if an employee's work isn't life and death, you might want to send them home, especially if the need to work holidays wasn't discussed up front at hiring time. They might just spend the whole shift grumbling and dragging their feet anyway. You pay for time, look like a jerk on a power trip, and don't get much productivity out of the bargain anyway. 

2. They may start polishing up their resumes

Requiring work on the holidays is a great way to kill your team's morale. Just imagine how undervalued and trapped you would feel if you couldn't spend these important days with your family.

You might destroy any positive work you've done toward building trust and creating an outstanding company culture. You might also start to see heavy turnover as employees go looking for work somewhere which won't require them to work on the holidays.

3. Your reputation might take a hit

You look like Ebenezer Scrooge when you decide to force employees to work on the holidays. In fact, one article referenced the infamous character when profiling "6 Outrageously Greedy Companies that Make Scrooge Look like a Softie." They even used the term "season's beatings." Ouch. Kmart and McDonalds may be able to take the heat, but you can't--and even the giants are losing customers. It's not just the media...customers get angry too.

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Even offering "time and a half" may not satisfy a customer's moral outrage over your practices.

In the end, of course, it's your choice. You're the only one who can make the decision for your business, and sometimes businesses have to be tough. Just make sure you factor these hidden pitfalls into your decision-making process.

Published on: Nov 25, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.