Start planning summer vacation schedules in spring
Around the December holidays, executives and payroll administrators usually expect employees to take some time off. With five or six high-priority days, it's possible you even close the office or extend paid time for everyone on impossible dates. Spring may just have sprung, but it's already time to start thinking about summer vacation schedules to avoid a chaotic rush of requests at the last minute.
Your employees work hard and are entitled to a little rest and relaxation. Whether they decide to take a week at the beach with their families, or spread time out across several long weekends, vacation time leads to rested, alert employees on the job. However, covering all your bases while everyone goes in separate directions can be a challenge. We'd suggest circulating a memo in mid- to late spring requesting that employees with a general idea of their vacation plans
From there, put them on the books. Look at the amount of coverage you have for important deadlines and assignments and approve vacation requests from there. It might not be a first-come, first-serve situation in the strictest sense, but make it clear to your team that it will be much easier to approve requests with plenty of notice than week-long absences announced at the last minute.
The TrackSmart blog of HR Direct suggests setting a timeline for any planned absences.
"Set a deadline for submitting vacation requests that gives you enough time to project how employee absences might affect production schedules and delivery dates to resolve any conflicts," the workforce management site explains. "Depending on your business, this could be anywhere from a month to a year in advance."
If your office provides flexible work arrangements, do your best to accommodate employee requests. This means working with team members if vacation days are insufficient or the dates fall in an impossible window of time. For example, if a department point person with five available vacation days needs seven days for a trip to Hawaii, see if he can't work from the hotel lobby for one or two of them. The benefit of work-from-home arrangements is that they can become work-from-anywhere arrangements in a pressing or unusual situation. No one wants to be the Grinch who stole a family vacation, so do what's in your power to enable travel plans.
Spreading work across the remaining team members is another consideration. If too many individuals are out of the office, it might be impossible to get anything done. Mapping the time to the best of your ability in advance can help establish a game plan for when everyone goes in their separate directions.