Balancing your employees’ vacation requests can make you feel like you’re walking a tightrope. While it’s natural to want to make your employees happy, if too many people are gone, your business suffers. Productivity drops and it’s tough to provide the same level of customer service. With the right approach to vacation time and busy seasons at your company, you can stop problems before they start.
Be Upfront About Your Time-Off Policies
It all starts with creating time-off policies, putting them in your employee handbook, and explaining them during new-hire training. Make sure to include the proper procedure for requesting vacation time, how far in advance you can accept time-off requests, and the deadline for submitting a request. This cuts down on the number of last-minute requests you get, and if you need to decline one, you can refer your employee back to the time-off policies and explain that they missed the deadline. Remember that the more detailed you are with your policies, the less likely you are to have employees confused about the rules.
Use a Scheduling Software
The worst-case scenario when it comes to vacation time is multiple employees submitting requests for the same period of time, and then all of them getting approved because you didn’t notice the conflict. Even though you can’t eliminate the chance of human error, you make it much less likely by using a scheduling software.
With a scheduling software, every time you receive a vacation request, you can check to see if anyone else is already taking those days off. This way you can see see if your business is going to have enough coverage before you approve any requests.
Find an Objective Method to Handle Conflicts
It’s hard not to notice the law of averages at work when you run a business. No matter what, there always comes a time when several employees all have important reasons why they need the same week off. If you have a small business where everyone knows each other, the first step here is to encourage open communication between those employees. They may end up coming to a compromise themselves. Should that not happen, you need an objective method to decide who gets the time off. First come, first served is typically the fairest solution, or you can go with seniority.
Get Ready for Busy Seasons
If your business goes through peak seasons, plan for them especially when they coincide with the Christmas holiday season and other times your employees like to take vacations. Here are some ways to make sure you have enough coverage:
- Set blackout dates when you prohibit vacation requests
- Go with a staggered schedule to give everyone some time off without being completely uncovered
- Pay employees a higher rate for working during the holidays
- Bring in seasonal employees for busy seasons and stay in touch with them throughout the year
Vacation scheduling can be tricky, and it’s just about impossible to please everybody all the time. What you can do is set clear vacation policies and treat everybody fairly when they want time off.