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Editorial Team
07 Sep 2018

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Vacation Manager: How to Deal with Staff Holiday Crisis  

Absence Management

Leave imponderables call for an efficacious absence management by talent management practitioners 

A computer glitch here. And over 15,000 stranded flights there. American Airlines flights had no taker pilots to fly them in peak holiday season as a software error assigning time-offs, authorized too many pilots, leaves simultaneously. Even after an offer of more moolah (150% over the original price to be precise) to shift holiday plans, no one budged compelling a homegrown aviation union to call it by the moniker of ‘crisis’. 

What’s with the Holiday Season? 

Even though a glitch, the holiday season is like that. The air is intoxicating and work takes a backseat. No matter how hard you try to concentrate and force your employees to do the same, a chain-thought-bubble is lingering over your employee’s head with thoughts of exotic waters off Santorini and Seychelles islands dissolving into the foam and washing every thought of work you may be trying hard to give them.  

Work in Times of Holidays  

It’s a beggar belief to expect a business to sustain itself during holidays with no work done. For some industries, holidays are a high-intensity season the likes of which are retail, airlines, restaurants, and breweries. Even other businesses aren’t aloof to the impact of too many request time-offs during the holiday season. 

Every time you approach a holiday request, a disclaimer presents itself in order: Holiday is a subject matter of solicitation. Yes. It is. It’s a discretion of employees to request time-offs. Your scheduling snafu may reek of favoritism if you fail to follow a pattern. Plus, you are setting a bomb to start ticking and insinuations to start flying high and thick. 

Staff holiday crisis or multiple time-off requests is a condition where too many requests for leave approach the HR desk with an approaching holiday season. Businesses struggle to meet productivity targets. The talent management mavens find it hard to make employees follow Ps and Qs of asking leaves. 

Perfecting the Art of ‘The See-saw Balance’: 

This exposition, while not being pedantic, helps you handle vacay conversations around the workplace. Pack some punch with these never-go-wrong expert tips: 

Rules: There are different kinds of it:  

From movies to brand new launches of smartphones, First-come-first-serve is a principle of final judgment. Leave requests can be aligned in this direction too. 

Reasons for leave requests can be another criterion to judge. But it can be a dicey method in a scenario where one employee is planning R&R in Tromsø and the other in Venice.      

Seniority-based leave grant is a good way to bring a semblance of partisanship home (Actually, office). But it is totally diluted when a senior professional is required to stay back for a project which is being launched at the vacation time.  

All requests must carry imperatives such as an employee’s name, reason, the off-days, and the flexibility of requested days. Employees avoid filling such questions because of the hassle of changing scheduled plans or for fear of being rejected. But asking employees in person can work wonders for HR. Give an explanation of stalemate you will be in if all candidates with the same skills leave at the same time.  

Managerial discretion can also be an option although an expedient one. Try involving all parties- the employees who have been refused leaves and employees with approved leaves for explanations.     

Holiday planning/ Easy tools to navigate: Easy time-off process and transparent tools and systems must be rolled out for advanced holiday planning with answers to how and when requests are to be submitted, when not to ask for leaves, how much advance in time leaves have to be planned? How often can it be done?  

Some employees are too straightforward to ask for leaves and always have got some emergency or family function lined up. Of course, you only oil the squeaky wheels. But in the melee of all these, some hesitant employees are left pondering- will they ever get time-off.  

The mojo mantra- One rule. For all.  

For high-holiday-season-businesses, this is all the more important. Avoid bad feelings and conflict among employees with streamlining.  

Thank god for internet ubiquity which can be exploited to never miss a leave-request wherever you are.   

Hire seasonal staff: Managers have to be absence aware. Hire some additional workforce or freelancers who are always ready to work for you. Check with them for their availability in advance. Holiday hiring job posting could be initiated, as well.  

Money/ Time-off bonus: Offering time-off at some other time, for those employees who are ready to work during the peak holiday season, is a good strategy. Superior facilities like F&B can be leveraged to keep them motivated and serve as your way of thankfulness. 

Money speaks when other perks don’t. It must be a strategic tool and not an enticing offer to avoid employee holidays. Holidays rejuvenate body, mind, and soul and must be encouraged for an increased productivity. Right Management reported 66% of professionals don’t use all paid leaves, not a reason to rejoice since a study on human resources by CCH demonstrates how 40% of employees feel productive after vacationing.  

Rotating shifts is another blessing wherein some employees can work while others enjoy and vice-versa. That requires keeping track on previous time-offs. This removes the earlier ambiguity of offering leaves on the basis of seniority. There’s always telecommuting to help you with last minute calendar setting.     

Shift-trades/ Employee suggested replacements: Ask employees to propose replacements for themselves. An employee guideline or handbook becomes mandatory for such an eventuality. Add an admonition to employees- it’s not about finding a physical entity covering the upholstery fabric of an office recliner, it’s about subbing with the same level of cerebrum space. 

Business needs are paramount to decide which skills might be required on which day. Let professionals be cognizant of caveats. But this mustn’t come in-between approval of leaves culminating in an alienation of employees. If only a handful of skilled employees are denied leaves every time, it’s high time to develop the same kind of proficiencies in others. One important principle of behavior to abide by is never to judge employees for whatever reasons they are taking leaves.     

Overlapping time-off requests can cause a heartburn and a lot of friction boils down to lost productivity. For such dire straits, decide between any of the above alternatives. There are myriad possibilities of what works for other industries. Be sure to choose one that suits your schedule regardless of what’s suiting others.  

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