Managing a business, whether a big or small one, is a complex job and a huge part of it is ensuring that your employees are both getting the work done and feeling great working for you. Of course, this is easier said and done, with innumerable factors contributing to how productive and engaged your employees will be. One very important factor is the way in which you handle their time off requests, which will be our subject today.
Start with Policies
The best place to start handling your employees’ time off requests is to formulate and put to action some very clear-cut and precise policies. This way, you can rest assured that everyone is familiar with the rules on how many days they get, when they have to put in their requests and how conflicting time off requests are handled.
By putting these policies in place, you also ensure that you are handling the time off requests in the most democratic way possible where everyone understands the rules of the game and where everyone is treated the same.
Another very important thing to remember is that there are times of the year when the time off requests will become an avalanche, such as during the summer months or around the holidays. In fact, you can rest assured that the majority of your employees will all want to take some of those days off.
By planning ahead, you can mitigate any problems that might arise from this. For example, you can set a rule that no one can get more than ten days or two weeks during the summer months or that employees with the same skills and doing similar work and on similar projects can never take vacation at the same time.
Probably the best way to think ahead is to come up with an elaborate staff schedule for the entire year, or at least the quarter in advance. This way, you can get a clearer view of what you can expect and what kind of workforce you will be able to count on when those tricky periods in the year come rolling in. This free employee schedule template is a great example of how you can do this.
Keep Your Employees Involved
One way to handle time off requests is to take care of it all on your own. This will give you greater control and you will minimize chances of unpredicted problems arising, but it will also give you an air of an autocrat, someone who does not believe their employees might actually have great ideas and ways to make their schedules in a way that will work for them, as well as the company.
For instance, you can allow individual teams work out their own time off needs, making sure that someone will be present at all times, being there to pick up the slack for people who are taking the time off. Of course, you will still want to be involved so as to make sure that your employees are being realistic about what is being agreed upon.
You might also want to allow for shift trades, although with this one you have to be even more careful. Namely, shift trades should only be allowed between team members and people who do the same kind of work. Still, if handled the right way, shift trades can be a great perk for your workers and something that will make them feel much better about their employer, i.e. you.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Every now and then, there will come a time when one of your employees will need to take a day off for a reason beyond their control. Perhaps their house will be flooded or their child might need doctor’s attention. Things like that happen all the time.
When this happens, do not go all managerial and headmaster on them. Treat them like adults. Do not ask to see the note from their child’s doctor. Do not ask them to send you the video of their basement being flooded.
Put yourself in their place. Would you want someone questioning your integrity when something like that happens?
It goes without saying, however, that you will not let something like this happen every day and for frivolous reasons. If you suspect that someone is abusing your good will, make sure to take notice and track their tendency to take urgent time off.
All in all, it can be challenging to handle your employees’ time off in a democratic and helpful way without getting into all kinds of trouble. Still, it is something that is worth doing right, especially if you really care about your employees.
And you should.