Managing employees’ time off schedule leads to inevitable conflict. One day, two or more employees will request the same vacation days. Most likely, departmental needs mean only one gets approved. What can the employer do?
There are practical planning steps that HR managers can share with department managers to smooth potential conflicts. Clear policies and employee vacation tracker tools are just two examples that make this easier to manage.
Stay on Top of Employee Vacation Plans
Once mangers accept the fact that pleasing everyone is not possible, the first step is to get ahead of employee plans. Most people plan summer and holiday vacations in advance. Although managers are not privy to every personal detail of their employees’ lives, there are actions to minimize problems.
Vacationers – and those who will cover for them – need to have a clear understanding of what is expected. This seven-step process helps to keep everyone on the same page.
- Discuss the vacation policy. Employees should receive written vacation policies and procedures during the onboarding process. Included in this information is peak work periods when vacation requests could be restricted or prohibited. Conflicts with prior commitments or religious holidays should also be discussed during orientation to prevent surprises.
Ensure that employees have their vacation email message set up when they’re out of office during this period.
- Clarify the right to rearrange vacation schedules. Changing market conditions and department demands may require rearranging vacation time at the manager’s discretion. Communicate this upfront and never use it to disproportionately restrict employees from taking off during prime vacation period. This should minimize conflicts.
- Set deadlines for submitting vacation requests. Managers should consistently stick to these deadlines. Hopefully, this gives managers enough time to project how absences on specific days may affect production schedules.
The industry and nature of the business determines how far in advance vacation requests are needed. Typically, this could be as little as one month or as much as one year in advance.
- Be prepared for the absences. Prepare for absences by having the employee submit a summary of major responsibilities, work in progress, how to access critical files and any other pertinent details to perform their duties seamlessly. Managers should give soon-to-be vacationers a checklist of important items so they know what to leave behind.
- Divide work duties of the vacationing employee. Parceling out duties among colleagues helps to prevent one person from juggling two jobs.
- Offer incentives to employees who work during popular vacation periods. Bonuses, premium pay, extra vacation time are examples to offer employees who work during popular vacation periods. Managers can use this when too many absences could negatively impact the business.
- Allow vacation trade off dates. This may work for employees in identical positions. Managers should make sure it does not jeopardize the quality of work deliverables or production schedules.
In addition, managers and HR may want to monitor the results of these action steps with an employee vacation tracker. Many tracking systems exist to ensure policies and decisions are fair to the entire staff.
Using Employee Vacation Tracking Technology
One thing most HR managers consider is the amount of time involved with tracking vacations. Using technology is less time-consuming than shifting file folders and spreadsheets. While manual processes might work well for small companies, total automation of vacation time works better.
Try producing a report on how much the company spends on compensating vacation time. A paper process does not work as well as time tracking software. This electronic tool helps with tracking and planning so managers make clear decisions about staffing level needs.
Before employees even begin submitting vacation requests, HR managers should develop a good tracking system. Considerations for how employee absences will affect any given work week is essential.
Attempting to run a skeleton crew might seem like a way to save time and effort. However, it is not a realistic approach. Taking advantage of the benefits connected to advanced technologies for tracking vacations is a tremendous benefit to small, medium and large companies.
The key is pairing vacation time tracking software with the needs of the company. Most systems are designed to match vacation policies when employees submit time off requests. Automated emails send the requests to managers. Approval or denial are also simplified to ensure swift responses that keep things organized.
With these things in mind, the answer to whether HR really needs technology is an easy “yes.” Vacation tracking software saves time, money and lawsuits when human errors occur. The HR department that embraces managing time off requests automatically gives the company a competitive edge.