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Better Vacation Planning Can Help Keep Productivity on the Job

Managing employee vacations and time-off requests requires advanced planning and a clear strategy. Here's a closer look at four tips for owners and managers to consider when developing a vacation coverage plan.

American workers receive among the fewest vacation days in the world, and they're also the most reluctant to take it. Time away from the office can be stressful for many reasons. Often, workers are concerned that taking vacation time creates problems for their companies and they may be penalized as a result. Yet vacation can be essential for your staff to remain productive. The right vacation plan and coverage strategy can decrease stress for managers and encourage your valued employees to take much-deserved time-off. Here's a closer look at some tips for business leaders to consider.

Establish a clear vacation policy

One of the most important steps you can take is to establish a clear time-off policy for your employees. How much vacation time do they get? How far in advance do employees need to request time-off? Are there blackout dates related to holiday schedules or production planning? Who needs to approve the time-off requests? Each of these elements should be clearly stated in writing as part of your vacation policy and distributed to your employees. A clear time-off policy can help make it easier to accommodate employee requests, while ensuring adequate staffing coverage for business needs.

Use workforce planning technology

Workforce planning technology, such as time and attendance solutions, can vastly simplify the process of handling vacation requests. Employees can submit requests for time-off well in advance, using an online system. Requests may be emailed to managers or added to their queue for review. This can make it easier for managers to review requests and evaluate their impact on future scheduling, so less time may be spent responding to requests, adjusting scheduling, and other related tasks.

Establish strategies for vacation coverage in advance

When an employee requests time-off, it's easier to approve that request when your company has its vacation coverage strategy mapped out well in advance. The right solution may depend in part on the employee's position. It may be easier to get temporary coverage for a receptionist than for a sales manager, for example. However, businesses have numerous options to consider when looking for vacation support. Some examples include flexible scheduling, offering overtime or additional shifts to other employees, using temporary workers, completing work in advance, or adjusting production or client schedules.

Communicate schedules far in advance

The earlier your company communicates work schedules, the easier it is for employees to make adjustments. This is particularly true when accommodating vacation requests or unusual scheduling changes. Post schedules as early as possible to make it easier for workers navigating childcare issues or transportation challenges. If a proposed schedule poses a serious concern, employees will have the opportunity to let managers know as soon as possible and managers can work to find other solutions. Early communication is an essential step in avoiding scheduling crises, unhappy workers, and stressed out management.

It can be a challenge when your most valuable employees go on vacation. But it's in your business's best interest to encourage your team to take time-off. Workers with the ability to take some time away from the office are generally happier, more productive, and may be more likely to stay with your company for the long-term.

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