Although you want to be respectful of your employees’ vacation days and personal time, there are periods when a deluge of last-minute applications for time-off make you wonder how you’ll survive without your key staff members. Before you’re put in a position of struggling to get tasks done with half your workforce taking days off, create a system that ensures their requests will be granted fairly without leaving you in the lurch.
Before it becomes a problem, draft an equitable vacation policy and present it to your staff. When rules are blatantly defined, employees won’t be able to complain when their last-minute requests are denied or claim favoritism if they think their wishes are rejected while those of executives or friends of team leaders are granted. Consider adopting a first come, first served policy. Plan well in advance by calling for time off application sheets at least six months in advance so everyone has a fair shot. If you often require people to work on holidays, you might also want to start a rotation to ensure the same workers aren’t stuck in the office year after year.
Simplify your time-off management with tracking software that streamlines vacation requests, responses and records. Some programs alert team leaders or human resources when a staff member puts in a request for a vacation, personal day or family leave. Managers can then automatically check for conflicts with other requests or project deadlines before scheduling the days off and sending the person a response to his request. The software’s irrefutable time stamps are also handy in the event anyone insists that they asked to reserve a holiday earlier than they did or falsely asserts that they received a verbal go ahead from a manager.
Despite the fact that you have systems in place for scheduling vacation time, allow some flexibility in the event of emergencies. Consider leaving a flex spot open in case a staff member has to be away for a family emergency, a sudden opportunity to take an exotic vacation or a need for personal time off, for example. You may even allow reliable and trustworthy employees to take an unexpected day off if they’re also able to spend a few hours working at home if their job duties enable them to work or attend meetings remotely.
If you’re juggling multiple time-critical tasks, prepare for employees’ vacation time by having part-time staff on standby for emergencies. Consider contracting with a temp agency or interviewing contractors that you can call on short-notice if you discover you’ve cleared a staff member for vacation time when you’ll actually need them in the office. Keeping a stable of trained, qualified personnel available for immediate scheduling will ensure you’re never shorthanded.
Although you want to be flexible and allow your employees to take the time off that they need to return to work refreshed and eager to get the job done, you still need to ensure you’re not left at a complete disadvantage if several staff members hope to be away during peak vacation times. Establish blackout periods that prohibit staff members from taking time off. These dates can include times when your business has a product rollout pending, will experience an increase in business during the holidays or has an annual company deadline or event when it’s all hands on deck. Be sure to ban personal time off across the board for these periods to ensure it’s fair to everyone.
Since most employees average about 14 days of vacation time each year, you need to ensure you’re coordinating all of the time off wisely. Develop policies that will allow workers to understand that you care about their welfare, but also need to ensure that their work stays on track. Striking a balance between the two will ensure you have happy staff members and a successful business.
Publish Date: October 4, 2019 10:40 PM