Managing Employee Paid Time Off: Policy and Time-Tracking Considerations
Managing employee paid time off takes planning. Employees may want time off, particularly in the summer months, for a variety of reasons — from pre-planned vacations to spending time at home with kids. These vacation plans translate into increased requests for paid time off (PTO) and flexible scheduling during the summer months.
Do you have a paid time off policy to manage this crunch time? It's a perennial HR summer challenge; how do you meet employees' requests for PTO or flexible work hours while juggling staffing and potential workflow delays?
HR leaders recognize that flex time is a key resource for retaining talented workers. The recent 2018 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey found that flexible scheduling is the most-offered non-traditional benefit. The idea of an unlimited vacation policy is also continuing to gain traction. Implementing a time and attendance solution can be critical to the success of any PTO policy. Here are five tips for managing PTO in ways that may give workers the time off they deserve without negatively impacting your business:
Plan far in advance
Many employees know months ahead of time when they need to take time off for weddings, camping trips, or a beach getaway. Ask them to submit time off requests as early as possible. Consider establishing a framework that, outside of emergencies, encourages PTO requests to be submitted in advance. Planning in advance can help you better address staff gaps or other issues as they occur.
Have a clear, documented vacation policy
Companies should have a clear, documented vacation policy that's communicated during hiring and orientation, as well as included in the employee handbook. Make sure the policy clarifies 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 where it may be more difficult — or even impossible — to get PTO requests approved. Keeping track of employees' PTO requests and flex time may feel overwhelming. Investing in a time and attendance solution can help you gather and track attendance efficiently, and keep you more informed and organized regarding each employee's schedule.
Companies should have a clear, documented vacation policy that's communicated during hiring and orientation, as well as included in the employee handbook.
Develop coverage strategies for different jobs
Not all employee roles are equal. A VP of sales or a critical delivery driver with established client relationships may be harder to cover than a customer service representative. Determine which responsibilities must be covered while the employee is out of the office and who has the capabilities to provide coverage. Should you consider hiring temporary help, or parcel out tasks across existing workers? Before an employee goes on vacation, have a clear list of what needs to get done. Train the people who are covering the tasks 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. It may be worth asking your employees what type of non-traditional benefits they would value. Also, consider whether coverage is essential for any part of the calendar year and whether incentives can help relieve critical staffing challenges.
Company vacation policies and processes should be organized, fair and equitable, and in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
Accept that you can’t please everyone
It can be a difficult reality, but a final consideration is accepting that you may not be able to please everyone. For example, if many employees want to take off the Fourth of July holiday even though this is a critical time for your business, then compromises may need to be made. What's most important is that company vacation policies and processes are organized, fair and equitable, and in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. With an established and smart system in place, you can accommodate employee needs as much as possible, while addressing the needs of your business.
Though employee PTO is important to your workers, handling scheduling demands, especially during high-activity periods, can be stressful. Consider using advanced timekeeping solutions to help you properly track employee time, attendance, and paid time off.