Keeping Tabs on Time Off Requests
Managing employee time off requests properly necessitates finding a balance between the requests employees submit and business staffing needs. Typically handled by managerial discretion or your human resources department, managing employee time is not an easy task.
The sick leave and vacation policy contained within your employee handbook is heavily weighed by job applicants when they are considering a new role. Top talent employees do not want to work at a business that does not afford them a healthy work life balance or appear to value their time.
When a staff member is not given enough time off their engagement and satisfaction levels decline. Over time, this negativity can impact your entire company culture and work environment negatively.
Tips on Properly Managing Employee Time Off Requests
Employees use time away from work to recharge and avoid burnout. Acknowledging the high costs of replacing employees, managing time off should be considered a top business priority. Best practices for properly managing employee time off requests include-
Make sure your employee vacation and time off policy are included in your employee handbook at the bare minimum. If a candidate or employee asks for clarification on either policy, your human resources department should be able to answer them definitively and directly.
Employee time off policies that are part of a union contract must be stricly adhered to in order to avoid violations. If your business is not union associated, you may want to consider incorporating managerial discretion and other time management flexibility practices.
Many human resources departments struggle during the holiday season to balance staffing needs with employee availability. Especially for retail businesses, the holiday season is often the busiest time of the year.
The two main methods of managing employee time fairly during the holiday season are-
1. First come first served method- Employees who request time off first will have their time request granted first. The first come first served method risks being unfair if the same employees consistently submit their requests first, so managerial discretion is advised.
2. Seniority based method- Employees who have been on staff for the longest amount of time will have their time off requests approved before newer employees. Similar to the first come first served method there must be a certain amount of flexibility to avoid conflict and employee burnout.
It is a best practice to set a deadline for employees to submit their time off requests, perhaps two weeks in advance. For the holiday season and any other coveted time off slots, a time frame may be more reasonable to avoid employees requesting time off too far in advance.
Favoritism is included in the top ten complaints of employees. Often times, employees do not even notice favoritism as they are so caught up in their time management processes. A great way to avoid favoritism is by implementing rotating schedules for all staff members.
For example, an employee may remember for many years to come that they were unable to attend multiple holiday season celebrations that would have been the last time they could have seen a loved one, while you may not even have noticed they were at your business for all of those shifts consecutively. A rotating schedule may have avoided this unfortunate situation entirely.
Make sure to keep track of the most desirable time off slots to avoid conflict and distribute them as evenly as possible. Keep track of time off requests including when employee requests were submitted and when time off actually transpired.
If an employee is taking too much time off, you will be able to identify it and address it promptly. Instead, more reserved employees who may not be confident to request time off can be scheduled for well deserved breaks.
Shift swapping is an outstanding way to avoid conflict and encourage staff member collaboration. Allowing employees to work out scheduling conflicts amongst themselves decreases the chance of you exhibiting favoritism unintentionally.
Remember to check in with employees that are volunteering to cover shifts frequently to make sure they are not being pressured unfairly.
Recognizing employee loyalty is the foundation of any great management technique. Keep track of which staff members volunteer for shifts that otherwise would have been difficult to manage.
If an employee offers to cover desirable shifts, find unique ways to reward them for their dedication. Rewards could range from granting additional paid time off to guaranteeing their next time off request is prioritized.
One employee can influence your entire company culture particularly if you run a small business and public recognition can motivate other staff members to follow suit. Employees take note of employers who notice their efforts and commitment to their business especially when it comes to making a significant work life balance sacrifice, such as working a holiday season shift instead of spending time with loved ones.
However, if you are able to do so, closing the office for the holiday season could be the best option to increase employee motivation and productivity. Some companies even choose to grant unlimited vacation time and generous paid time off allowances to their staff members.
- Finding a balance between business staffing needs and employee availability is difficult but important to keeping employee engagement and productivity high.
- Human resources professionals should be well versed in their vacation and time off request policies. Include a copy of these policies in your employee handbook for easy reference.
- The first come first served method and the seniority based method are great foundations for your time off request policy.
- Avoid favoritism with shift swapping and rotating schedules, making sure to check in with employees regularly as well.
- Reward employees who take less desirable shifts with extra paid time off or granting future priority for time off requests.