Trying to look after all of your employees leave or holidays can be overwhelming. There is very little literature and information out there about how to manage holidays so everyone just does the best they can, or how they have seen others do it in the past. Most cope but find it very difficult and others just cope with the fall out for a week or two when everyone wants their holidays together.
Holidays are about more than time off work. Holidays are about; that much anticipated two weeks on the beach, that chance to see your little girl shine in the school play or the opportunity to party at your friend’s wedding. So how do you say no?
Few managers ever say “no” to a holiday request. Most say yes, and make a note of the request. Then when that person is away, they have to firefight to keep everything going. If this sounds familiar, than you will be relieved to know that there is another way.
So here are a few tips to help you manage your holiday requests:
- Quantify the Problem: Add up how much holiday everyone in your team, department or group is entitled to. Then see how much time there is in the year.
- Know your Workload: How many people do you need in each day as a minimum. Are there any days when you don’t need anyone e.g. Bank Holidays. Do you have any especially busy weeks when no one can have a holiday?
- Prioritise Summer Holidays: Everyone likes a summer holiday. So how are you going to ensure that everyone can have that all important two week break? Plan it in advance and don’t just wait till the last minute.
- Plan for Christmas: Most people save up their holidays till the end of the year partly to get Christmas off and partly because it’s an insurance policy just in case something comes up at the last minute. So what will happen at Christmas? Can everyone be off? Can no one be off?
- Make the most of your Shutdowns: Shutdowns are a great way to use up everyone’s holiday. Many companies shutdown for Bank Holidays, at Christmas or for a week or two during the summer.
- Have an Annual Leave Policy: You need a fair and simple set of rules to ensure that everyone can have the holiday of their choice.
- Monitor and Record Holiday Bookings: You need a way of recording all your holiday requests and then assessing if you can allow or decline a holiday request. For offices we have designed the Yearly Planner, a simple and cheap solution that allows you to record holiday requests and also tells you how much holiday they have left and who else is off that day. For shift workers we have VisualrotaX, which records all holiday requests, highlights if you are short on shift and can even tell you when you are low on holiday resource.
- Create Reports and Printouts: Sharing employee holiday schedules with the team is an easy and effective way to avoid clashes. This empowers your employees to take responsibility for avoiding holiday issues and minimises the number of requests you have to deny. This is why the Professional Yearly Planners have easy monthly printouts to help your team plan their holiday requests. VisualrotaX has individual calendars so that they know what holidays they have taken and how many they have left till the end of the year. They both also come with graph sheets which display how holidays have been booked over the year. This way you can see at a glance if and when your holiday policy failed during the year. You can also compare each year’s graphs and see how you have improved.
- Create a Holiday Calendar: It is not enough to just set up the rules for booking holidays, you need to ensure that it is fair and not open to abuse. If your rules state that it is on a first come first served basis, what is to stop an employee block booking the last two weeks off in July for the nest 10 years? A Holiday Calendar is there so that the employees and managers, know what is expected of them and when during the year. Then everyone can take the holiday that they are entitled to with the minimum of disruption. It is a list of dates and actions which say when the holiday book will be open for requests and when it will close. When the manger will be processing requests and when they will confirm holiday dates. It is also a great way of focusing people’s minds and ensuring that you will only have to process requests during a few weeks of the year instead of potentially having a new request every day, including when you are on holiday.
- Know your Holiday Resource: You don’t have to go short, there are ways of covering for holidays. These can include; overtime, extra staff, borrowing from another department, temporary staff, agency staff, cover shifts etc. You can assess and estimate your holiday resource based on your budget and the holiday entitlement you have to cover.