Temperatures are rising. The sun is shining brighter for longer. And the annual pilgrimage to some exotic destination is almost upon us. But is the HR Department really set for the influx of annual leave requests? Hopefully yes, but if not, there are still some steps to take to ease the pressure of the summer vacation season.
The challenge of properly managing the planned departures of staff over the summer is difficult. Even in small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring that the operation is adequately manned and continues to run smoothly is a tricky priority.
The development of employee leave software (like our own AnnualLeave.com) has helped HR professionals to manage the task more effectively by automatically updating individual employee entitlements, incorporating department personnel needs and providing a calendar-style interface for easy consultation.
But there are still the issues with dealing with a flood of requests and at the same time ensuring that productivity is not affected. Thankfully, with some planning and communication, you can avoid the headaches that summer can bring.
5 Steps To Help Avoid Summer Vacation Request Headaches
- Have An Official Employee Leave Policy
The first step any HR Department should take is to compile a single Employee Leave Policy document, and to then distribute it to employees. This policy document sets in stone the ‘cans and cannots’ that employees need to be aware of when it comes to time off, and (most importantly) a reasonable explanation for them. After all, the last thing you want to do is create resentment.
The document should feature clear information on key factors like:
- existing relevant legislation
- breakdown of statutory entitlements (including Bank Holidays):
- other company-designed entitlements
- detailed separate part-time and full-time employee examples
- peak operation dates and any associated time off limitations
- minimum personnel and project team requirements
- clear notice periods, stating minimum days in advance a request is acceptable
- First Come, First Serve
Admittedly, this does contribute somewhat to the race we’ve been talking about. But when it comes to granting or rejecting leave requests, fairness and transparency are essential. The fairest way is to grant leave on a first come, first serve basis. Anyone that requests time off too late is going to miss out, and this is a model that everyone can understand and accept. The only caveat, of course, is the minimum personal requirements that departments have.
- Make Sure Employees Know the Critical Times
As part of any Annual Leave Policy document, make sure everyone is aware of the dates when time off is most difficult to get. These Red Terms are the critical times of operation, when the highest productivity levels are needed and understaffing can potentially do the business some serious damage. Once these dates are clearly laid out, employees have advanced warning on what dates not to request for their summer holiday.
- Forget Being The ‘Nice Guy’ – Prioritize the Business
We all love to get time off, so it can be tempting to do the nice thing and quickly grant requests. But it is the performance of the business that everyone benefits from. Therefore, it’s essential that business interests are the priority – meaning some employees have to be disappointed. Communicate with management departments to ensure you understand exactly how many employees are needed to keep productivity up. Then, make clear to requestees who can’t be spared the significance their roles play, so they understand why their request was rejected.
- Rejected A Request? Suggest A More Suitable Time
Employees don’t get to choose their holiday dates so rejecting a summer leave request is nothing unusual. But the disappointment can sometime cause upset so make sure those who have been turned down know that you are open to giving them leave, just at a more suitable time. It may be a good idea, therefore, to suggest the best alternatives, like the end of August rather than end of July. Or maybe September instead of August.
AnnualLeave.com is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service solution.