A Practical Way to Manage Staff Holidays

It can be a tough task to manage staff holidays effectively, regardless of whether you own a big business with a large staff body or a smaller company with a small team of staff. Both situations have their problems!

With a large company, you have to be incredibly organised, and have an effective way of identifying everyone’s needs and a fair way of meeting them without damaging the productivity of your business.

On the other hand, if you’re a business with a small team of staff, covering holidays can be even more difficult, as you have to ensure, especially during popular holiday periods, that you keep enough staff working to effectively run your business.

Employees often request their holidays in the same week; school holidays, half-term weeks, Christmas, new year and Easter can be periods that are particularly tricky. As a responsible employer who cares about their staff, you’ll naturally want to try to accommodate everyone, but you also have to recognise and accommodate the needs of your business as well. After all, if the business doesn’t run efficiently, you risk the company failing, and employees would run the risk of losing their jobs, so, as a manager, you have to protect your staff from this as well.

So how do you handle staff holidays efficiently and fairly?

These 5 tips may help you to organise your staff leave and avoid common holiday problems that arise.

1. Have a clear, organised policy on annual leave. Set out the rules for holiday requests and stick to them – this is the only way to manage it fairly. Examples of rules contained in many policies include:

  • the basis for approving holidays will be assessed on a first-come, first-served basis)
  • holidays will be limited to 2 weeks maximum at a time (excluding exceptional circumstances, for example, a wedding and honeymoon)
  • There are certain periods in which holidays cannot be taken. These include: (specify any times in which your business experiences particularly busy periods)
  • The company maintains the right to reschedule holidays or suggest alternative dates where business needs dictate

2. Publicising employee holiday schedules with your staff is a simple and effective way to avoid holiday scheduling difficulties. This method allows employees to take responsibility for managing clashes with their colleagues and organise their own time off. Investing in a Staff Holiday Planner that is easy to use within your workplace can really help you and your staff manage holidays effectively.

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3. Set a deadline for when holidays must be taken (if you are experiencing issues with staff wishing to ‘carry them over’ into the next year). While it’s nice to be able to accommodate all your employee’s needs, sometimes it isn’t in a business’ interest to have a staff member off regularly throughout a year, or for a long period of time, and if this applies to your business, it may be worth setting this rule to avoid this situation.

4. Have flexibility with your ‘first-come, first-served policy at popular periods. You may wish to adopt a different method for universally popular periods, such as Christmas and New Year, such as pulling names out of a hat or using a rotation system for each year. Between Christmas and New Year, if your business isn’t busy during that time, an idea may be to close your business down and make it mandatory for the employees to take holiday on these days.

out of a hat

5. Consider how you cover you employees’ absences. Is it better to use staff to cover each other’s absences, or to use a temping agency? Would it make for a smoother process if the person taking the holiday were to write a detailed ‘handover’ report covering tasks in progress, tasks remaining, information on deadlines and contacts et cetera. This can really help staff cover an absence effectively and, ultimately, helps your business.

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