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How to manage employee schedules during vacation season

Amy Bourne |

It may be hard to believe with the blizzard weather half the country is still getting, but: spring break is almost upon us, which means vacation season—and many employees are starting to count the days until their next escape. And with these vacation plans come a bunch of fun challenges for management.

Between arranging coverage plans and accounting for necessary overtime, scheduling during vacation season can feel like—well, the opposite of a vacation. Here are a few tips to help you manage complex schedules during high time-off season.

Think long-term

The sooner vacation plans are set, the easier it is for everyone to plan around them. Workers are more likely to sync their schedules happily and employers are better able to implement coverage plans.

But in order to help employees plan ahead, it’s important that you provide them with the information they need to make plans. This can include providing a schedule of holidays when the business will be closed as well as helping employees understand and anticipate upcoming workloads.

Think reasonably

Large businesses often run into the problem of having too many people asking for the same days off—especially surrounding holiday weekends.

To avoid scheduling conflicts like this, make sure there’s a fair plan in place for dealing with such conflicts (i.e. first come, first served) and ensure employees understand the policy. You should also be clear on whether you’ll be busier leading up to a holiday, or right after.

This encourages employees to take time off when they need it, but discourages them from abusing the policy or putting too much of a strain on coworkers or the business.

Be organized

One-off meetings and paperwork can easily get lost in the shuffle among regular day-to-day job activities. This can create the risk of approving time off, then forgetting to plan for it. Or worse, verbally approving time off, then telling an employee they can’t actually have it.

Make sure you have a system in place to keep track of anything you might need to consider when approving vacation days. This can range from a sophisticated workforce management system to just having a checklist of things you need to make sure get done.

Vacation is meant to be a time for employees to relax and recharge, so removing unnecessary barriers to booking, and enjoying, time off is better for everyone in the long run.

And remember: managers and owners need vacations as much as employees do, so take one!

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Amy Bourne is the marketing copywriter for ExakTime. She enjoys learning about the real challenges faced in the construction-related field, and providing content that helps business owners work smarter.


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