Ensuring adequate staff cover and dealing with employee holiday requests can be a nightmare. Apart from the usual holiday entitlements, employers have to take into consideration workers on fixed-term contracts; part-time employees; staff on maternity, adoption or parental leave; starters and leavers etc.
The best way to avoid workforce management problems during the holidays is to be prepared. Implementing the correct procedures will enable you to allow time off to those who request holiday leave whilst ensuring that your organisation still has enough staff to operate effectively at all times.
Here are five tips to help you deal with the holiday problem:
1. Plan ahead - Large organisations often ask employees to submit their holiday requests for the coming year in January so they can ensure adequate cover for peak holiday periods. Even smaller companies need to plan holiday schedules three to five months in advance. Using an appropriate software programme will make it a lot easier to organise your 'Availability and Leave Calendar' well in advance for the whole year.
2. Ensure staff are aware of the company holiday policy - Let staff know well in advance which days (if any) are company holidays, especially if you run a small business and plan to shut down completely over Christmas or during less busy weeks in summer. Likewise, if you have deadlines to meet or exceptionally busy periods, employees should be aware that they cannot take time off.
3. Have a holiday request deadline - Make it clear that holiday requests should be made a specified period in advance and any applications submitted after the deadline may not be approved. This prevents staff requesting time off at the last minute and then feeling frustrated if their holiday requests are turned down.
4. First come, first served -To prevent staff shortages during peak holiday periods like summer and Christmas, you need to cap the number of people that can take time off. Letting staff know that holiday requests will be allocated on a “first come” basis will encourage them to submit their holiday requests as early as possible and make employee scheduling easier.
5. Create a fair and balanced schedule - If several employees want the same days off, ask them to collaborate and work out a holiday work schedule. This avoids resentment and encourages collaborative teamwork. Other ways of allocating peak season holidays fairly include a lottery system and prioritising employees who meet sales and productivity targets.