The recent warm weather reminds us we’re rapidly heading towards the summer holiday season. Companies appreciate the fact that taking time off is an important part of employee wellbeing. But there’s no escaping the fact that managing holidays effectively to minimise business disruption while also ensuring everyone gets time off when they want it can start to turn into a real headache.
Why does it get so complicated?
For starters, you might have employees who like to plan well in advance and book off the most popular dates. So when others who are slightly less organised start asking about time off, you have to deal with clashes and the bad feeling that creates. It’s difficult enough trying to deal with multiple holiday requests. It’s even worse if you give the go ahead to holidays then realise too many people will be off. Either way business is disrupted – or some awkward conversations have to take place.
Sometimes employees aren’t completely clear on what their entitlement is in the first place. That can mean they only realise at the last minute they still have holiday entitlement left leading to a mad rush to take it before the current holiday year ends which can be disruptive. Or they may end up carrying holiday over which, if your holiday management system is not set up to accommodate it, builds up problems for the following year.
Simply keeping track of holiday entitlements can become a real challenge. A spreadsheet or even a paper system might be ok for very small businesses but as employee numbers grow, so does the complexity of keeping on top of holidays. And once you reach the point of having upwards of a few hundred employees you’re going to have problems. Version controls can get muddled up. Formulas can go wrong. You might have a situation where one manager gives permission but if the employee is involved in work for other managers too, they might need an input. You could try having one person assigned as the holiday approver and make them aware they need to get the permission of other managers before approval is given – but this can turn into a logistical nightmare with holiday requests taking ages to be approved or even getting missed completely.
Getting it right is vital. You don’t want your holiday management process to turn into a source of bad feeling and you certainly don’t want it leading to significant business disruption (remember what happened at Ryanair ?).
Have a clear and comprehensive holiday policy
One of the most important aspects of effective holiday management is to treat all requests fairly and consistently. A detailed written holiday policy should be your starting point. It should make the requirements clear for both those requesting holidays and those who have to approve them or explain why they have had to turn them down.
Information in the policy should ideally cover the following points:
- The number of days of holiday an employee is entitled to take.
- The holiday year period: e.g. whether it’s the calendar year, April to March or a rolling system where a certain number of days can be carried into the next year.
- How much notice employees must give. This could vary depending on how much holiday the employees want to take off: the longer the holiday, the longer the notice period.
- How the request should be submitted.
- What the criteria are for approval: e.g. is it first come, first served?
- Any key periods of time when holidays must be taken (such as over Christmas or during a shutdown) and equally any periods when the business is particularly busy and holidays cannot be booked.
- The maximum number of holidays that can taken at a time. You might also want to outline a process for requesting longer holidays in exceptional circumstances e.g. for more than two weeks.
Make your holiday management system as user friendly as possible
If your company has at least a few hundred employees, holiday management software can make life so much simpler. Automated holiday planning means employees can access and see other employees’ booked holidays. It’s a transparent way for avoiding scheduling difficulties. Crucially, it encourages employees to take responsibility for avoiding holiday clashes and shifts it away from being a manager versus employee issue which it can sometimes inadvertently become. Some software can be accessed via apps, allowing simple convenient access to information like team holiday calendars to help employees organise themselves. The information then flows through and can notify multiple managers if the sign off needs to come from more than one person.
Holiday software helps employers proactively manage holiday leave too. It can provide accurate reports identifying employees with large amounts of leave. That lets them remind employees and encourage them to book it in rather than have a last minute panic as the final few weeks of the holiday year approach. Software can let managers deal more strategically with holiday cover too, giving them full straightforward visibility of who will be absent when, and enabling them to keep track of arranging cover where necessary.
Why not get in touch with us to find out how we can help solve your company’s holiday issues? Our Legislator HR software offers a comprehensive solution that includes a smartphone app allowing employees to view their team calendar to check when colleagues are off before requesting holidays. It also features a workflow authorisation process for line managers, and all other authorised managers, for straightforward signing off of requests. Find out more by calling us on 01442 285460, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or getting in touch via our contact form.