Spring has sprung, the days are finally warming up, and everyone’s focused on planning their summer vacation! I can totally see myself on the beach sipping a nice cold cocktail – I guess I’d better put in my time off request! You’re probably thinking, “That’s nice, but I’m trying to run a business here. How am I going to manage all of the summer absences and keep productivity high?” I get it. You need to keep the lights on while allowing employees to take their hard-earned time off, so here are a few things to consider when managing summer absence.
1. Keep everyone informed.
Make sure time off policies are up to date and outline any specific processes on granting time off during peak times or specific seasons. Make these policies readily accessible by all. This may seem way too obvious, but reminding everyone of what to expect when requesting time off will help to minimize any surprises. In order to make certain that new hires are aware of policies, build this into the onboarding process so that important pieces of information like this are not missed. For existing employees, you may want to consider creating a reminder announcement through your HR system during peak vacation seasons or perhaps using a mail merge to spread the word via email.
2. Do less of the legwork.
Ensure that your HR system is set up with timekeeping to routinely consider thresholds around the number of employees allowed off on any given day based on your company’s policies when employees request time off. This way employees won’t be able to submit a request on a day that the time off quota is filled. This will save your managers time, and they will have more peace of mind knowing that they aren’t over-approving time off. Don’t have an automated timekeeping system? Well, now is the time to have a conversation about that! These kinds of tools have huge value when it comes to managing absences.
3. Use your data to optimize schedules.
When creating schedules, use historical data to predict how many employees you really need on any given day. This way, you are not over- or under-scheduling and can be better informed to not only assign shifts but approve time off as well. This can be a key factor in managing summer absence. Building these types of calculations without a timekeeping tool helping you is a very involved process, so this is another spot in which to take advantage of technology if possible.
4. Give employees a chance.
Allow employees the flexibility to swap shifts or ask for coverage amongst themselves. This is where your HR application’s automation options come into play again. A strong automated timekeeping system should not only provide employees with a vehicle to swap shifts or request coverage, but should also ensure that business rules around skills, certifications, minimum/maximum hours, budgets, etc. are enforced when these transactions occur. This helps you stay compliant while giving your employees the ability to engage with each other and achieve more of a work/life balance. As an added plus, a good system will give your employees a strong mobile option for accomplishing these tasks, letting them be active participants in their schedules whenever and wherever they want.
Although you may not be able to please everyone, it is possible to get through the summer absence season unscathed. Transparency of company time off policies, auto-enforcement of employee absence thresholds, using historical data to more accurately project scheduling needs, and providing employees the opportunity to swap shifts or request coverage using a method that will enforce policies are some simple ways that absences can be managed more effectively. With a bit of planning and the proper technology, you can avoid the ripple effect of unexpected employee absences and still give your team the summer relaxation time they deserve.