5 tips to take the hassle out of scheduling summer vacations

Summer is still a long way off, but you can be certain employees are already eyeing the July calendar in hopes of grabbing the prime weeks to block off for their summer vacations.

You’ll probably be stuck refereeing who gets which days. Here’s some help from your peers.

TheHRSpecialist.com recently posed this question to HR professionals: “What’s the best way to schedule vacations without employees complaining?”

1. Require advance notice

“In the case of two or more employees requesting the same time off, management determines who gets it based on seniority and length of advance notice. Also, for one to two days’ vacation, we require three days’ advance notice. For more than three days’ vacation, we require three weeks’ notice—no exceptions.” — C.L.P.

2. Ask for employees’ help

“Your employees are your number one asset, so allowing them to take their earned vacation when they want it will go a long way. Try discussing the situation with them first.

“If you need to make rules, tell em­­ployees how many people you can afford to have off at certain times. Letting em­­ployees cooperate with one another on this issue will allow the cream to rise to the top. Then, make sure you thank those who do cooperate.” — Mary C.

3. Set the tone early in the year

“Create a deadline at the beginning of the year (say, March 1) for submitting vacation requests of durations of X amount of days or more. Warn em­­ployees that only one person from a department can be off at a time.

“Set guidelines for how and whom they need to communicate information to before they go on vacation so important aspects of work are not missed.” — Janelle G.

4. First-come, first-served

“Set up a schedule now of blackout days. Or, inform all that only two em­­ployees (or whatever you designate) are able to take off at any given time. Provide it on a first-come, first-served basis. I’ve done this, and employees talk to those who already have the time slot off to see if they could trade.” — Amy

5. Seniority rules

“Rather than using a first-come, first-served basis, try a seniority ruling. That seems to be the only fair way to me. I work in a unionized environment, so employees must have extended vacations (two weeks or more) in by the end of February. Following that, it’s based on a first-come, first-served basis.” — Patty