How to Reign in Vacation Requests to Stabilize Operations

How to Reign in Vacation Requests to Stabilize Operations During the Holidays

The holidays are a popular time for vacation requests. The days around Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most  requested days of the year as well as the most widely traveled, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. While the employee handbook may encourage vacations, most managers dread having to find coverage for out-of-office employees taking their well-deserved breaks. It’s far better to become a better vacation time manager than to worry about covering employee vacation gaps. Here are a few tips to reign in vacation requests and stabilize operations during the holidays.

Recognize the Importance of Time Off

First, it’s important to recognize that vacations are important for employees’ rest and rejuvenation. Employees are entitled to the time off they’ve earned, and research shows that time off is crucial for engagement, resilience, and preventing long-term burn-out.

It’s also important to take a vacation yourself. Actions speak louder than words, and if you claim to have employees’ best interests at heart while working nonstop yourself, there will be a disconnect that employees feel. This can raise their anxiety about taking their own vacation time. It’s vital that managers set the standard for a healthy workplace culture.

Create a Process for Vacation Requests

If you don’t already have a process in place for managing vacation requests, it’s time to put one in place. Planning in advance for vacation requests and adequate employee coverage can alleviate the stress that comes with employees being out of office.

  • Encourage collaboration and cross-training among team members. No one employee should be so critical that another couldn’t step in and cover temporarily, or even longer term. Build in overlap and back-up so your business is prepared for any future coverage issues.
  • Plan vacation time together as a group. Instead of having one manager in charge of approving or denying all vacation requests, sit down as a team to discuss the annual calendar and work through possible coverage shortfalls.
  • Consider a rotating system. List out employees, with those at the top getting to choose their days off first. Next year, rotate the list so that those people at the top move to the bottom.  Over time, everyone has a chance to choose their days off first.
  • Consider a full business shutdown. No one has to argue about days off if the entire company shuts down for a holiday vacation, even if only for a couple of days. This system is widely used in Europe for a summer vacation break, but can also work well for the winter holiday time off.
  • Recognize that employees may have other ways they prefer to refresh themselves. It could be an occasional afternoon or day off for an enrichment course, flex time to attend their children’s school special activities, or longer lunch hours. Being more flexible with those types of requests could cut back on full-day vacation requests during peak periods.

While it’s often difficult to perfectly balance the need for adequate coverage for your business with your employees’ desire to use vacation time over the holidays, proper planning can ensure the vacation plan works well for both managers and employees.

I can help you get processes and systems in place to reign in vacation requests. Contact me today.

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