Managing Vacation Time During Popular Getaway Seasons

Family of four walking in snowy woods hand in hand

In a perfect world, your employees would divide their vacations evenly throughout the year. But that's not the reality.

Vacation and paid time off (PTO) are powerful parts of an employee's benefits package, and many employers use PTO as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. If you're wondering how valuable PTO is to your employees, keep in mind that according to the ADP Research Institute, if an employer is not in a position to award salary increases or bonuses, almost four in 10 workers (39 percent) would be happy with additional paid time off.

Given how important PTO is to workers, it's crucial that employers have an organized way of managing time off so that employees are able to take advantage of their PTO days. In an ideal world, employees would divide their vacation days evenly throughout they year. But that's not the reality.

Most workers focus their vacation scheduling during the same months, usually during the summer and at the end of the year during the holidays. This can really complicate shift scheduling.

Here are some tips on how you can keep your business functioning while ensuring that your employees get to take the time off that they deserve:

Ask for advanced vacation scheduling

The earlier your employees inform you of their plans, the easier it will be for you to manage the vacation scheduling process. Some companies ask that their employees submit their vacation requests at a specified time interval before the days off. This can help ensure plenty of time to come up with a solution if a conflict arises. To encourage your employees to plan early, consider a policy accepting vacation requests on a first-come, first-served basis. This can help the scheduling process and create a fair way to vet requests.

Encourage employees to coordinate

Vacation scheduling can be a problem when too many people in the same role are out of the office at the same time. For example, it would not be good for business if your entire sales team were to disappear for a week for summer vacation. As such, you should encourage your employees to coordinate their time off with others in their department to help ensure that each mandatory role is filled during popular vacation times. For example, if one employee worked during the holidays last year, his coworkers may volunteer to stay on this year to allow the employee to enjoy time off.

Establish your vacation policy in an employee handbook

Your employee handbook should clearly outline the specific steps employees need to take to get a vacation request approved. For example, you should standardize request timelines, who should receive the request and what tasks the employee should complete before their time off. This may include arranging with other employees to cover shifts or specific tasks.

Employers should have some flexibility in their vacation policies for employees who seek to use their vacation time for medical or other personal reasons.

Designate time off blackout days

You may also choose to establish vacation blackout periods during the busiest times of the year to prevent employees from taking time off when it will result in hardship to the business. Blackout periods should be reasonable and accommodating for employees needing time off for personal reasons.

Offer extra pay during popular vacation times

Ultimately, a certain degree of vacation conflict is unavoidable, especially if you stay open during the holidays. As such, some employees may have to rework their vacation scheduling. To make it up to them, consider offering extra pay for hours worked during popular vacation times. However, this may impact the regular rate of pay for hourly workers when calculating overtime rates. This incentive may even encourage enough employees to stay on and keep you from having to deny any requests.

A single solution

Human capital management (HCM) technology can be your secret weapon for simplifying holiday workload management. A comprehensive solution will let you see scheduling needs, workflows and time-off requests together. Not only can that help you make informed decisions, but it can also quicken communication and simplify the management of last-minute requests.

Learn how to find the ideal workforce management solution for your business and increase efficiency and productivity. Download: Workforce Management Buyer's Guide