Fourth of July is right around the corner and Jackie, James and Joe have all requested Friday off for an extended holiday weekend.
Judy was approved for a weeklong family vacation a few months ago – and you just got a last-minute request for two days off that same week from the assistant manager who reports to Judy.
Sound familiar? For all the time and energy you spend monitoring your staff’s time and productivity while at work, there’s the equally pressing issue of their time off. How can you create a fair and consistent approach to handling employee PTO and, most importantly, avoid those pesky scheduling conflicts?
Follow these three “P’s” to simplify your scheduling process, prevent overlaps and keep the cries of “no fair” to a minimum:
Start with a Clear Employee Vacation Policy
First things first: You need a written vacation policy that clearly communicates your company’s vacation benefits. This policy should cover:
- The amount of vacation time an employee earns each year, when it accrues and how much unused time can be carried over from year to year
- How much notice you require for vacation requests – and the procedure for requesting time off (see the next bullet)
- How conflicting requests are prioritized (by seniority or “first come, first served” for example)
- Any other details, such as how much time can be taken at once or any blackout periods due to business demands
Build an Efficient Request Process
So you’ve spelled everything out in your vacation policy. Next, you should require employees to request their vacation time as far in advance as possible. That way, you can make better decisions about workflow scheduling and staffing. Plus, if your decision to deny a vacation request is ever questioned, you’ll have proper documentation to back up your decision.
Let your staff know the deadlines for asking time off – especially during busy work periods. If necessary, block out days and/or specify how many employees can request off a particular day.
Gone are the days of sticky notes, paper calendars and spreadsheets. With attendance tracking software like TrackSmart, employees can easily request vacation days and other time off through the Employee Self-Service site or the mobile app for smartphones and tablets. Then, all employee time-off requests can be approved by a supervisor with just a quick click. Further still, you’ll see all your employees’ vacations on an online vacation calendar for easy reference.
Exercise Your Right to Approve or Deny
Even with a well-drafted vacation policy and employee vacation tracking in place, you’re bound to face some scheduling snags. That’s because at the end of the day, you can’t please everyone … and meeting the demands of the business is what matters most. If approving a vacation request would hurt your business or throw a particular department into a tailspin, you should encourage the employee to reschedule the vacation for a later, more convenient date.
To emphasize: Always be certain you have a legitimate business reason for turning down a request – especially for employees who have followed the proper procedures. If you’ve communicated policy and process upfront with every employee and new hire, you’re much less likely to be accused of “playing favorites” with time off requests.
And to prevent a grumbling, unhappy employee in this situation, consider offering another perk as a concession, such as letting them leave early a few Fridays in a row or the option to work from home, if the position allows.