Summer headaches: how to manage vacation time

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The days are longer, thermometer hotter and beaches are filling up – and so is your vacation schedule. How do you manage the high demand of these summer weeks, without employees hurling accusations of unfair play and favouritism?

  1. Have a formal vacation policy
    You wouldn’t dream of having informal payroll policies, right? So why are some companies still treating vacation time – a form of compensation – casually? Your policy should specify how much vacation time staff get, how much notice is required for leave and how they go about applying.
  2. Set a deadline
    Make a staff announcement in February that all leave applications for between June 1 and August 31 must be made before March 1. That gives you lots of time to juggle double ups – and a valid reason to turn down late applications if necessary.

    See also: Lose-lose: unused vacation days cost everyone
  3. Make the schedule public
    Have a public noticeboard showing what weeks are already booked. You can colour code this by department, with guidelines for how many people can be on leave at any one time.
  4. Involve your employees
    When they understand the guidelines, employees can help work out conflicts amongst themselves, rather than requiring HR to micro-manage holiday time. They can approach those with leave about swapping, while you maintain your “first come, first serve” rules.


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