Taking time off is an essential part of being a productive employee. It allows you to recharge your batteries, clear your head, and return to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.
However, managing time-off requests can be a daunting task for managers and human resources professionals. With so many employees to keep track of, it can be challenging to stay organized and ensure that everyone gets the time off they need.
This article will help managers make time-off requests smooth while remaining fair to all employees.
Types of time-off requests
Time-off requests can be generally divided into paid time off (PTO) and unpaid time off (UTO).
Paid Time Off (PTO)
PTO is the time-off employees receive from work that they get paid for. This can include vacation days, holidays, sick days, bereavement, or maternity/paternity leave. PTO is an excellent way for employees to take a break from work and enjoy quality time with family and friends or pursue personal interests. Nonetheless, according to “Health and wellbeing at work 2021: survey report”, sickness is the most common cause of short time absence. 88% of respondents named minor illnesses (colds, headaches) in the top 3 reasons for taking time-off. 45% listed musculoskeletal injuries there, and 39% listed COVID-19 among the leading three causes.
Unpaid Time Off (UTO)
UTO is the time-off employees receive from work that they don’t get paid for. This can include family leaves or leaves of absence for personal reasons. UTO can be a great way for employees to take a break from work without using their PTO.
How to handle time-off requests easier
Making time-off requests can be a hassle for both employees and employers. Employees may feel like they are burdening their employer when they request time off, and employers may feel like they are being taken advantage of. However, there are ways to make time-off request management easier for both parties.
Here are a few tips for managers:
Tip 1: Have a clear PTO policy
The first step to making time-off request management easier is a clear time-off policy. This policy should be in writing and made available to all employees. It should include information on what types of time-off are available, how to request time-off and the approval process.
A clear time-off policy will help ensure that all employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to taking time off from work.
Tip 2: Make a rotating time-off schedule
You may be inadvertently giving the same few individuals time off over and over again, leaving others to fill in for those undesirable shifts continually. Some workers could become resentful that they’ve been consistently cheated.
It might be a fantastic idea to have a rotatable vacation time plan to maintain things equitably. Perhaps you could provide vacation time blocks for each employee at the start of the year, allowing them to take off work.
Tip 3: Use an automated system
Another tip to make time-off request management easier is to use an automated system. Many software programs can help managers keep track of employee time-off requests. These programs can help automate the approval process and send reminders to employees when their time-off is approaching.
An automated system can take the hassle out of time-off request management and make it easier for everyone involved. It’s easier to avoid human errors when there is software to help you rather than doing it old-school and filling vacation info in excel. Or even worse – submitting verbal time-off requests!
Tip 4: Establish a request deadline
Flexibility is essential, but so is knowing that you can’t afford your staff to be like a ghost town during peak season. Letting all personnel know about the deadline for requests is one approach to do so. Set a deadline for submissions to ensure you don’t get any last-minute cancellations.
Also, if there are some time frames when you need all employees on the spot, shed some light on that beforehand. It’s also vital to be just; if you’re going to establish that as a hard rule, it’s never acceptable to bend the rules for just one or two people, leaving others behind.
Tip 5: Give rewards during peak times
During the holiday season or other peak seasons, you may want to consider giving rewards to employees who are willing to work. This will help incentivize employees to work during these times and make them more likely to be available when you need them. For example, you could offer a bonus, extra PTO, dibs on taking a vacation, or other perks.
Tip 6: Track all time-off requests
Keep an eye on requests from your staff, especially why they made them and when they were granted. While it might be difficult, tracking employee time-off requests may assist you in detecting recurring patterns and provide you a stronger stance in rejecting an employee’s request for time off if they are asking for it too frequently with the same excuses.
You can also see whether any staff doesn’t ask for time off regularly. Perhaps they truly do deserve some downtime but aren’t bold enough to ask on their own.
Tip 7: Try to avoid overlapping time-offs
Regardless of the season, there may be circumstances when multiple workers want to take off on the same days. This may be acceptable if it’s just a handful of individuals who can be easily covered. However, if too many workers ask for days off for the same period, you’ll have to make a tough choice of who gets the prize.
How to deal with overlapping time-offs?
Take a moment to consider how many time-off requests each employee has already made — or is anticipated to make in the near future. If one individual has previously requested three other shifts during that month, but the other has just asked for this one shift, you might choose to give a time off for the latter one.
Another solution to this problem is on a first-come, first-served basis. Whoever makes the request earliest receives the days off. This policy will also encourage workers to submit their time-off requests as soon as possible, which is beneficial for you as the employer.
Purpose of request
If multiple people want time off for various reasons, try comparing the reasons and deciding on that basis. For example, if one person wants time off to attend their cousin’s wedding while the other wants to grab a beer with friends, you may give precedence to the former.
Tip 8: Encourage shift trades
Allowing shift swapping is one approach to making managing employee time-off requests easier. This method enables workers to accommodate their colleagues to cover their shifts while on vacation. If your organization’s scheduling platform finds workers for shift trade depending on their availability and skills, this procedure may be done without much supervision from the manager.
However, keep in mind that shift trades still should be thoroughly monitored. By relying too much on the system alone, you may end up being over-or understaffed.
Tip 9: Create a backup plan
No one is protected from emergencies or overlapping time-offs during the “vacation season” like the summer or Christmas holidays. If this happens and you still need to have someone on-site while letting your staff get a well-deserved rest, try making a list of seasonal workers. These should be reliable part-timers who can substitute your employees when it comes down to it.
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The bottom line
Making time-off requests can be a hassle for both employees and employers. These tips will help you minimize the disruption to your business while still accommodating your workers.
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