Handling Employees’ Summer Vacation Requests

Summer is almost here, and that means an influx of time-off requests for the holidays and various family vacations. Having a process in place to ensure you have staff on-hand is essential, but it needs to be done fairly and in a way that still provides your employees ample opportunities to take the time away from work they need. While some businesses have this figured out, it doesn’t mean a plan is perfect, so be sure to review your policies in case they need to be tweaked before the season.

Why Vacation Time is Important

When thinking about your company’s vacation policies, keep in mind how vacation time is more than just a perk, but a benefit that is as good for the employees as it is for the business. Employees who take advantage of their time off generally exhibit higher productivity and stronger morale and have even been shown to stay with a particular company for longer. Not only that, but those who take vacation time are usually healthier, which may mean less unexpected sick time.

Vacations are also great for the economy as more people are away from the office to travel and spend money, generating potentially millions of jobs. Unfortunately, if employees believe taking time off will hurt their career opportunities, or their workload simply prevents them from comfortably taking a few days away, you will inevitably see employee burnout and may begin to have issues with retention.

Planning Ahead for Summer (and Beyond)

As the season approaches, reach out to employees and review your vacation policies. For new and prospective employees, discuss these policies upfront; if someone knows the policy won’t work for them, they can choose to no longer pursue the position and aren’t going to be surprised if or when they start the job.

Ask that any time-off requests be submitted as soon as possible to ensure ample planning time and avoid scheduling conflicts. Whether requests are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, or team seniority, particularly around major holidays, being fair is important, but know that you aren’t going to be able to please everyone every time. No matter how requests are done, be sure your company is using a system to keep the scheduling organized for easy reference.

If your company is willing to allow many employees off for holidays but still is required to remain open for business, consider bringing in temporary, contracted professionals to help. While this option is not possible for everyone and may result in more of a headache if training is required, it is something to consider should the need arise.

Avoid Frustrations

Again, there is no way to guarantee everyone will be happy if a majority of employees submit time-off requests for the same dates as some will have to be turned down, but be careful how you make that determination. Having a fair system in place that all employees are aware of will help you avoid looking as though you are choosing favorites which leads to lower morale and even lower productivity.

Discuss with your team the possibility that extra work may be required on top of their usual workload in the upcoming months if a coworker is expected to be out. Encourage team members to discuss their roles and duties with one another so they are prepared, and have any employee who knows they will be absent leave a list or document stating tasks that will need to be completed while they are gone. Nothing is more frustrating to teams than an employee leaving no information for others who then must pick up the slack and try to figure out what was already completed and what still needs to be done with any given task. The goal of laying out these tasks and notes for others is to keep everything running smoothly and eliminate the need to contact anyone while out of the office unless it is an emergency.

Consider Other Options

Not all time off or away needs to be as part of a full vacation. The warmth and allure of summer can make it feel difficult for employees who feel “stuck” inside an office all day. During summer months, offer “half-day Fridays” for employees throughout the season without them having to take time out of their vacation stock. If possible, allow employees to work from home once a week. While they’re still working, being able to do so at home allows them to feel more relaxed in a different environment.

If these options aren’t possible for your business, don’t leave your employees out. Ask for their opinions on what ideas they have that could be implemented to make the summer more enjoyable for everyone while still getting the necessary work completed. Showing your employees that you understand the importance of their work/life balance will make them feel more appreciated within the company, leading to better productivity, higher office morale, and better employee retention.

To help discover what your employees’ thoughts are regarding current vacation policies and other aspects of the company, utilize third-party surveys and interviews, such as HSD Metrics’ ExitRight® interview. These will provide you with in-depth analytics, open and honest feedback, and more, all in a timely fashion to help you make any necessary improvements or resolve issues quickly. To schedule a demo or for more information about our many survey options, contact us today.