How do I manage multiple holiday requests?
Everybody wants time off at Christmas – it's an age-old problem. This is compounded by some staff that save up their holiday entitlement to disappear for weeks at a time. Naturally, you need to manage these multiple requests so that your company is able to operate, but also so that dissatisfaction doesn't set it.
Refusing people their paid leave simply because you have not planned or foreseen their requests is bad management and leaves you having to do the inevitable and make subjective judgements about who can and cannot have their leave. This, of course, generates a certain amount of ill-will when emotions are running high.
Holiday entitlement, and extra days off, form some of the perks that you can give employees as an added bonus, so instead of waiting for the Christmas period to hit you, why not design a strategy that offers time-off at Christmas in a measured way?
Knowing that Christmas is a hot spot for time off, discuss and plan the potential requests in autumn. Planning this time way ahead of Christmas is a key. It allows employees to participate (up to a point) and it also prevents certain people feeling disappointed later on.
The traditional request form
The best thing that you can do to help manage the employees' time off is to have each employee fill out a request form some time before they need it.
Request forms the best way to keep track of who is taking off and when they are taking the time off to give your company a measure of control. This also allows you to monitor which people appear to be building up large amounts of unused leave which could cause you staffing problems when taken later on – or all in one go.
When it comes to key dates or holiday hot spots, you can introduce a ‘bartering' scheme so that employees take it upon themselves to make sure your company has enough staff during the time they want to take off. Such things do, of course, happen informally, but having it as a part of your company culture confers employees with a sense of control and responsibility. It also makes the system a little more democratic.
Rewards and perks
Additionally, having prime-time days off can be offered as a perk or a reward to high achievers, or those who may have made sacrifices earlier in the years – such as staying later or taking pay cuts when the company is struggling.
Just looking at requests for leave as a reactive policy is not going to please anyone. You need to look at your business cycle and staffing requirments. In a multicultural workforce, you also need to consider staff availability in view of differing religious calendars.
Set expectations early. Review your company or department's strategic plans for the year and then make everyone aware of critical dates where employees cannot be absent.
This early warning also encourages employees to use some of their leave rather than building it up. Do all of the above and set a good example not taking hot-spot time off yourself, and you'll create an acceptance of the need to regulate or diffuse multiple leave requests.