Dealing With High Vacation Demands

Dealing With High Vacation Demands
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 Scott Bossart

The warm days of summer vacations are directly in front of every organization.  In the Northern states where the warm weather arrival yields large amounts of staff wanting to take time off work and head on vacation.  This becomes especially true for those with children and wanting to take advantage of everyone spending some time together while school is out for the summer.  The staffing levels can get fairly slim during these times and even put a strain on the organization as replacements step in or the organization runs at mare minimum levels.  On top of that, even Business leadership take time off leaving gaps in the decision making hierarchy as well as in many businesses, the productivity levels can increase.  Dependencies regarding how the organization is structured and the foundation within the organization, will dictate if the slim staffing levels cause hardships and fault lines, or things progress forward in the business as usual fashion.  In any case, to be successful, empowerment and collaborative operations must be part of normal operating procedures.

For those organization’s that are top down driven where by the leadership makes all the decisions and ensures everything is in place to an extent that results in a form of micro managing, having one or more leaders out can cause a great deal of issues as the general staff can become paralyzed from making any decisions.  Generally speaking, the majority of employees have a desire and a need to perform well.  During those times where the staffing is low or relief staffing fills in gaps, the strength of the collaboration will show itself.  If the staff is used to being micro managed and powerless towards making decisions, guidance’s, or instructions, productivity will be greatly hampered.  If their normal mode of operation is truly collaborative and in a controlled empowerment, they will step up and become part of a solution.  The key is to not wait until vacation for empowerment and expect the same level of performance, attitude, drive, and determination for productivity as when there is a fully trained cooperative of staff.  Replacements staffing must also be brought up to a certain level of performance expectation to minimize the strain on the rest.  This is easily done by advanced planning and coordination.

Policies and procedures for requesting vacation time off must be identified prior to the year beginning.  If the policy allows for single day requests as opposed to week only requests, these requesting rules must be in place and fully understood.  If the general staff can simply call off the morning of a nice day and claim vacation, it can be extremely difficult to build any productivity dependencies unless the organization is staffed heavy.  There are many ways to handle run rules for staffing.  One of which is to simply dictate Paid Time Off (PTO).  This allows for an employee to take the allotted number of days off with pay.  Once the days run out, any time off is granted only through special approval and is not paid.  The rules around PTO can include calling in sick where by the PTO is always used first for any days called or scheduled off.  Other ways are to grant a certain number of days typically based on years of service.  This is the staple of managing vacation time.  In either case, while it is nice to allow for last minute decision, there should be a defined reasonable period of advanced notice to maintain a high level of professional courtesy.  What ever the policy is at the lowest level, should be closely followed at the higher levels.  Not saying these policies will be an exact match, but they should be fairly close.

High demand for vacation time off can certainly apply constraints on the organization.  It is always best to be able to see the forecast in front as far in advance as reasonably possible.  How well the organization makes it through high vacation demand periods will be dictated by the foundational strength of the production crew and the policies applied.  If the organization is built on a strong collaborative platform and the procedures and policies regarding vacation time off are reasonable and fully understood, the overall impact will be greatly minimized.  A crew that is empowered and involved in the general operations of the organization, will step up to the plate and understand when not to request time off, or even what to do it further in advance to lessen the impact of their absence.  The advice is not to wait until vacation time each year to dictate the policy and try to manage leadership and general staffing levels each and every time they simply show up.  Get in front of it, and there will be little to no surprises.  You will find the organization will function better overall and maybe even come out of the slim months ahead…collaboratively speaking.

O.M.E.M., LLC – Helping Businesses Improve

Stay Well

Scott B.


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