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Managing Employee PTO Any Time of Year

Human Resources

Managing employee paid-time-off (PTO) takes planning. Project: TimeOff reports that 40 percent of Americans don't use vacation time for fear of returning to piles of work or being thought of as irresponsible. At the same time, giving your employees time away from the office may help them restore their mental and physical energies for major challenges ahead. During the summer months, employees take time off for a variety of reasons — from pre-planned vacations to staying home and enjoying the warm weather.

However, this can create scheduling challenges for managers, as it can lead to a lack of critical staffing and workflow delays. Here's a closer look at how you can manage employee PTO in a way that may give your workers the time off they deserve without negatively impacting your business.

Plan far in advance

One of the most important aspects of avoiding vacation scheduling nightmares is planning far in advance. Many employees know months ahead of time when they need to take time off for weddings, a trip to the beach, or a family camping vacation. Ask employees to submit time off requests as far in advance as possible. Consider establishing a policy that, outside of emergencies, encourages PTO requests be submitted in advance. With advance warning, it may be possible to better address big staffing gaps or other issues before they occur.

Have a clear, documented vacation policy

Companies should have a clear, documented vacation policy that's communicated during hiring and orientation, and included in employee handbooks as well. In your policy, clarify the amount of time off that employees receive, when they can take it, how far in advance requests must be submitted, and what approvals are required. Finally, highlight any busy periods for your business where it may be more difficult — or even impossible — to get employee PTO requests approved.

Develop coverage strategies for different jobs

For some positions, it's easier to find reliable coverage for a specific position when they're out of the office. Your VP of Sales or a critical delivery driver may be harder to cover than a customer service rep. Determine what responsibilities must be covered while the employee is out of the office, who can cover the responsibilities; whether you should consider hiring temporary help, or parcel out responsibilities across existing workers? Before your employee goes on vacation, have a clear list of what needs to get done. Train the staff that's covering the responsibilities and assign a point of contact for help if questions arise.

Offer incentives to cover busy periods

Many employers offer incentives or premium pay to employees who agree to work during high-demand times. Employees without set plans may be happy to exchange time off for a less busy period, while accepting a small bonus or higher hourly rate in exchange. Consider whether coverage is essential for any part of the calendar year and whether incentives can help you meet critical staffing goals.

Accept that you can't please everyone

A final consideration for managers is accepting that they may not to be able to please everyone. For example, if the majority of employees want to take the July 4th holiday off, which is also a busy time for a business, then trade-offs will have to be made. What's important is that the company's vacation policies and processes are organized, fair and equitable and in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws. From there, simply do your best to accommodate employee needs while addressing the needs of your business.

Employee PTO is an important benefit for your workers, but handling scheduling demands during high activity periods can be stressful. Eliminate problems by scheduling ahead, developing clear PTO policies, and offering incentives to help meet demands during your most critical staffing periods.

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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