When you get an employee time-off request slide into your inbox you can pretty much guarantee a stiff headache is going to follow suit. We’re not saying that handling these requests is the most challenging part of your role, not by any means of the imagination, but they definitely threaten the top end of that list. It’s just annoying. You know you need to keep your staff happy in order to be a successful place of work, but trying to run your business smoothly when these sorts of hiccups happen is a truly Herculean task.
That said, as a manager or leader, you need to deal with this kind of request properly and that means approaching the situation with your “time to be fair” cap on. Think of it like this: your employees time is just as valuable as your own. It’s that simple. You may be at the top of the pyramid, but that doesn’t mean your time is any more valuable than theirs. So, if you want our advice, we say give your employees time off work whenever they need it because, if there is one thing you need to value more than anything, it’s promoting employee happiness in your business.
It’s been proven that people perform better when they are encouraged to take vacations and use their allotted holiday days – that includes you, by the way. That said, there is nothing worse than having loads of staff taking time off when you’re going through a super-busy patch. Nonetheless, this will happen at some point or another. It just will. That’s when being fair about things is going to be your best friend.
To help you with this, we’ve pulled together a list of top tips to make sure your managers and leaders are being as fair as possible when granting time off.
- Policies Are A Perfect Start
The most important thing you can do is set up some company policies regarding time off so that everyone knows the rules and what you expect. The best way to do this is to define them as clearly as humanly possible. Let your employees know when they can take time off, how much-advanced warning they need to give and the correct procedures for requesting time off too. The more detail you give in the policies, the less acrimony there will be should you have to decline a request. As such, detail the entire process in full. This will nurture trust, respect and good relations for the simple fact you have been transparent and, as we all know, transparency is the best. It shows respect.
- Let Trades Take Place
Like we said, employee time-off can be a real headache. However, one of the best ways to manage this is to allow employees to trade shifts with other members of your staff. This will give them that little bit more independence and respect because you will be saying to them, “you can take any time off you need so long as you can arrange someone else to cover your shift.” Not only will this make your life easier, it will mean your employees won’t have to use their allocated days when they don’t have to, which will please them no end. Trust us on that. Of course, to make this work effectively and efficiently, make sure your employees know all shift-trades need to be approved by management and that they can only swap with employees that do the same job. That’s the only way this will work smoothly.
- Respect Employees Will Have Emergencies
We live in an imperfect world, one where things happen without us having any control over them, which is why you need to accept and respect employees will have emergency situations. They will hand in sudden time off requests. Of course, each emergency will differ in terms of severity but, nonetheless, you should do everything you can to grant them the time they need. The reason for this: what may not seem massive to you, may mean the world to them. What’s more, if you do deny their request, you’ll probably find they take a sick day in any case, meaning the same outcome occurs just with more acrimony. Anyway, to make your place of work extra human and caring and special, don’t just grant time off for emergencies, try and help too. If they need time off for the loss of a loved one, let them take as much time as they need, help them work from home and agree to pay for any bereavement counselling they might need. If they got injured in an accident, put them in touch with a lawyer that has no fee unless you win, or a contingency fee clause instead. If they need to take time off because their boyfriend just broke up with them, offer to be a friend and not just a boss. Little things like this will go a huge way. It will make your place of work a truly amazing place to be.
- Always Have A Plan B
With some requests, like the emergency request, there isn’t much that can be done. We know that. However, there are times in the year when you can expect a lot of requests come in. People love a summer vacation, others always go away for the holiday season and maybe winter escapes too. What’s more, denying requests at these times is pretty much a no-go, which means you’ll be left shorthanded as the manager or leader. That’s when a Plan B becomes your lifeline. Our advice: have a pool of trusted freelancers or, better yet, part-time staff; people that you can reach out to and call in as super-subs when the exodus starts and times get heavy. To make this work smoothly, make sure you are using people that you know and trust, people that have worked for you before and know your processes and practices. As we all know, there is nothing more tedious than having to train someone when the workload is piling higher than K2.