Vacation PlanningAbsence ManagementWork/Life Balance

Managing Holiday Vacation Planning and Time Off Requests 

Managing Holiday Time Off Requests

Year-end promotes a host of challenges for those in dynamic operating environments. The balance of output and enabling employees to enjoy an important time of year presents challenges to all layers of the organization. 

Commonly, this period experiences a significant amount of both near-term planned and unplanned absences – while also supporting annual leave processes. As a result, striking the balance between employee engagement and achieving business objectives, while incorporating annual vacation planning, only becomes more complex.

Common Challenges with Vacation Planning

There are several challenges that arise when managers are tasked to approve or deny time off requests for either near-term or long-term planning horizons. 

1. Disparate Forms for Request Submittal 

Problems often arise when there is a multitude of time off requests in different formats. It is key to make sure you have a standardized request procedure in place. Every proposal submitted should include the same information. Spending the extra time to create a standardized, user-friendly, and fair request format will ensure employee equity. 

2. Making Decisions Fairly 

It is important for administrators and schedulers to take an integrated approach to approving and denying time off requests, especially around the holidays. Workers need to know that all the approval decisions are fair. No one wants to feel as if their time or request is valued less than their peers. Make sure to implement a decision structure that considers not only volume but also a process that allocates time to review in a timely manner to avoid missing approval deadlines.  

3. Heavy Volume of Time Off Requests 

Although you may be tempted to approve a majority of time off requests, you need to maintain operating capacity. Too many vacation requests can lead to decreased throughput or unbudgeted overtime hours. Make sure your organization understands approval rules and priority. Many companies use seniority as a primary input; however, this is often just one of many decision criteria for the organization to understand. 

Recommended Internal Request Process 

As an administrator, you want to respect your team’s time off requests, in order to promote a strong culture and increase employee happiness. Respecting time-off requests promotes a strong culture, employee engagement and positive sentiment towards the workplace – critical factors supporting retention and employee experience efforts. 

On the other hand, it is important to balance deadlines, team projects, performance expectations, and more. This means managing time off requests in a way that is optimized both for the requestor, but also the operating personnel required to manage the process.  

Policy for Overlapping Requests 

A common issue that arises when handling time off requests, especially around the holidays, is overlap. Not every employee will be able to take the same days off. How do you decide which requests to approve?  

Common examples include Seniority, timing (first come), workgroup, quotas, and compliance requirements. 

Regardless of the rule, maintaining adherence and visibility of time off assignments will mitigate negative feedback. 

Request Blackout Periods 

Holidays, school breaks, and summer months are times when more employees want time off, but that does not mean business is slowing down. It is difficult to keep up with demand if there are not enough people staffed on shifts. 

If you must block off time frames where employees cannot request time off, you establish clear guidelines early and enforce these consistently with each employee.  

Honor Approved Requests 

People make plans, significant others schedule time off, buy plane tickets, and book hotel rooms. If you say approve a request in January and then retract it in June, employees will be upset. This mentality can lead to decreased worker confidence and retention. Setting up a timeline to approve requests can help alleviate over-requested times, by allowing you to view all requests at once.  

Indeavor’s Solution 

Indeavor provides supervisors and employees visibility into their scheduling requests, as well as diverse ways to ensure proper attendance and time off. It is becoming increasingly important to normalize a process for capturing this information. Indeavor helps you simplify the process overall by standardizing requests, promoting visibility and detailed auditability to all levels of the organization.  

Let us help set expectations early on to bring together disparate processes and streamline them. Giving visibility to employees and employers. While ensuring fairness through following set rules. 

Employees prefer an automated system. It offers them visibility, fairness, and garners trust. For administrators, it reduces human error and decision fatigue, which in turn increases employee morale.  

About the Author 

Claire Pieper is the Marketing Communications Coordinator for Indeavor. She aims to share information to improve the customer journey. To learn more or get in touch, connect with Claire on LinkedIn

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