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Remaining Productive When Employees Go On Vacation

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in Human Resources

If you don't feel the heat of employees clamoring to schedule vacation time when summer unofficially begins on Memorial Day weekend, you'll probably feel it soon after. Use these helpful hints for managing vacation schedules and maintaining productivity.

  1. Require advance notice and approval. Employees must understand that time off requests may be denied depending on company or departmental needs, so they should not book anything until their request has been approved.

  2. Put a specific limit on the number or percentage of employees that may be out at one time. While the number or percentage can be flexible depending on the department, type of job, time of year, etc., stating a limit at least makes employees aware of the fact that they may not get their requested vacation days if too many other colleagues have already requested the same time off.

  3. Ensure that employees get their work done before their departure. Managers should discuss with employees what is due while they're away and soon after they return, and when and how they plan on accomplishing it.

  4. Delegate. Specific tasks must be assigned to specific employees so nothing falls through the cracks of "it's not my job."

  5. Anticipate questions. Besides being short-handed, productivity often also drops while employees are on vacation because of a knowledge gap. For parts of their job that no one else regularly handles, ask employees to write up instructions, checklists, or other guidance on how to do them. This should be done in advance, during downtime, not in the hectic days leading up to their vacation.

  6. Remember external parties. Employees should change their voice-mail greeting and set up an automatic e-mail response that lets customers, clients, etc., know the dates of their absence and whom they can contact in the meantime and how to contact them.

  7. Be on the lookout for fraud. One employee who couldn't get all of the vacation dates he had requested (to coordinate with his co-worker girlfriend) two years in a row, put in leave requests under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) both years that coincided with the vacation dates. When his employer discovered that, on his second medical leave, he engaged in activities that were contrary to his alleged medical condition and went on vacation to Las Vegas with his girlfriend, it fired him. A court threw out the employee's subsequent lawsuit claiming that he had been fired for requesting FMLA leave.

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