It’s one of the great juggling acts company owners, managers and HR professionals have to perform every year: assembling a time-off calendar that satisfies each employee, while ensuring day-to-day operations carry on without a hitch. Regardless of the size of your company, it’s easy to drop the ball by allowing too many vacations at once or not having policies in place regarding seniority, rollover time, or blackout dates (to name a few). Here are some time-off management tips to keep your company culture up and your stress levels down:

Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same (Calendar) Page
Does your business have peak operating periods at certain times of the year when you can’t afford to be short-staffed? Are there holidays you observe (or don’t observe) that may surprise new employees? Start the year (or onboarding) with a calendar that clearly communicates company-wide days off and blackout dates when time off is prohibited unless under special circumstances. Sharing this information with your team from the start will reduce the number of questions you’ll have to answer throughout the year.

Have Your Employees Plan Early
Just as planning a vacation requires time to figure out where to go, how to get there, etc., so too does managing time-off requests, to ensure business won’t be hampered by the vacationing employee’s absence. Request that your team submit time-off requests 3-5 months in advance so you can plan ahead to hire temps, or reassign office responsibilities to other employees.

Establish a Seniority or First-Come-First-Served Policy
Say a new employee puts in for a vacation five months in advance and a 20-year employee in the same department requests the same time off a month later. Do you have a plan in place for long-standing employees or will you honor the request that came in first? There’s no wrong answer, but whatever the policy is, make sure it’s clearly communicated so there’s no confusion or resentment.

Know Which Way You’re Rolling
Can your employees roll over paid time off from one period to the next or from one calendar year to the ensuing year? Or will their accumulated time expire? Make sure they know one way or the other. Not many things can damage a working relationship than when an employee loses paid time off, especially when it’s because the policy wasn’t properly communicated. One caveat about permitting time off to roll over: An employee could stockpile accumulated time and attempt to take it all at once, which could leave you short-staffed. Keep that in mind as you establish and monitor your time-off policy.

Be Consistent but Be Flexible
While it’s important to adhere to your time-off policies to ensure all of your employees are being treated fairly and on equal terms, it’s just as important to be flexible when special circumstances arise (and they will arise). Business is unpredictable and so are people’s lives, and compromise is often necessary. So, keep the door open and the lines of communication going at all times. While you won’t be able to accommodate every request, your willingness to listen and
showing that you’re listening and trying to honor their requests will have a huge impact on your relationship with your staff.

Communication, enforcement and flexibility are critical to enjoying smooth-functioning time-off request policy. So, too, is having a software solution to help you track of your employees’ schedules. At Accu Data, we offer a platform to help you keep track of any type of benefit accrual from sick, vacation, floating holiday or PTO. Contact us today to see how we can manage your employee paid time-off benefits with our simple, comprehensive solution!