Whether a company offers paid vacation time to employees as a benefit to increase hiring leverage, or policy merely allows that workers can take a specific number of unpaid days each year, it’s important to organize scheduling surrounding employee vacations. A failure to do so could lead to serious snafus, such as having no one to complete work during peak travel times like the end-of-year holiday season.
Alternately, careless vacation scheduling practices could result in overlapping vacations or instances in which key employees are gone during a time in the business cycle when their expertise and efforts are required. Long story short, you want to avoid such disasters and the impact they can have on productivity.
How can you go about preventing these types of disasters when it comes to scheduling employee vacation time? Here are a few strategies to try.
Create Written Policies
First, you’ll want to create clear and concise rules for taking vacation time, write them down, and include them in your employee handbook so that everyone knows how the system works. Policies could include the amount of vacation days granted within a specific period (say, a year), limits on the number of employees within a team or department allowed to take vacation at the same time, or blackout dates when employees are prohibited from taking vacation time, just for example.
Require Advance Notice and Supervisor Approval
One of the best ways to prevent vacation overlap among employees, or a lack of employees during peak seasons, is to require them to submit requests for time off in advance and make approval by a supervisor a prerequisite before vacation time is granted. This way supervisors can plan vacation times against the work calendar to ensure adequate coverage, as well as avoid overlap when multiple employees request the same days off.
Stagger Vacations at Peak Times
Many employees will seek approval for vacation time during the summer months and religious holidays. If you’re a forward-thinking company, perhaps you’ll simply close offices between Christmas and New Year to accommodate. However, this isn’t feasible for every company, which is why so many shut down only for the holidays themselves (and in some cases, eves).
In cases where myriad employees request time off at the same time, you can either set up a system of seniority or simply approve time off on a first come, first served basis. You may also want to offer some flexibility to allow employees to swap vacations times, provided such changes won’t negatively impact productivity.
Utilize Scheduling Software
There are several types of human resources software that are essential to maintaining efficiency, such as a biometric time and attendance system that makes tracking hours and submitting them to payroll a snap. Comprehensive scheduling software that allows supervisors to match up projected work to employee vacation time is absolutely invaluable when it comes to ensuring that disasters in scheduling never occur.