Simple steps to managing time off requests

Time Off Requests

If you’re the person in a company tasked with managing the time off requests of employees, then you already know how frustrating and difficult it can be to effectively manage all the details. You’re trying to keep the employees happy while at the same time making sure all the critical workflows and needs of the company are met to ensure smooth operations. The good news is that there are lots of relatively simple things you can do to make this responsibility easier and less daunting.

Clearly Define the Rules for Time Off Requests

Your job will be much easier if employees know their responsibilities around making time off requests. At a minimum, this set of rules should include how to make time off requests, when requests for time off can be made, when they should not make time off requests (special events and other “all hands on deck” times), how far in advance requests should be submitted, how often such requests can be made, and any specific details unique to your company. The key to this is clearly establishing the rules and then sticking to them no matter what. If the busiest time of year for your business is a particular month or two, make sure employees understand that they simply cannot request time off during those specific months. At the same time, it will help if you also clarify the months that are fair game for time off requests.

Linking your rules to business processes also helps. If you need to finalize work schedules for any given month by the 15th of the previous month and you know it’ll take a good week to figure out the scheduling, set the deadline for submitting time off requests to the first of the previous month. In other words, time off requests for August need to be submitted by July 1. How often requests can be made is also important to clarify. If your employees can request up to 20 days off in the year, develop a rule around how many requests can be submitted, such as only one per month or whatever makes the most sense for your company.

How to Handle Overlapping Time Off Requests

There will inevitably be times when there are overlapping requests for time off, such as around major holidays. As before, what’s most important here is to be clear about your company’s policy so that employees understand how and why some requests are honored and others are not. A few of the kinds of policies different companies use for handling overlapping requests include seniority, first-come-first-served, the reason for the request, flexibility of the employee, and manager discretion.

It is important to note that you aren’t limited to just one of these policy choices to the exclusion of the others. Your company might initially use a first-come-first-served approach but then allow for other considerations as needed. If one of the policies your company uses includes considering the reason for the request, be careful about how it is implemented in order to avoid any appearance of favoritism that can cause resentment among employees. If your company wants to consider employee flexibility, then your request procedure or form should include asking the employee how flexible they are in changing the dates of their requested time off. Figuring out how only one of the three overlapping requests can be honored is a lot easier if you know that one of the employees can easily change the dates of their request. Allowing for managerial discretion can also be tricky. The manager knows each the employees under them better than anyone, but still needs to make it very clear why one request is honored while the other one is denied.

Finally, making sure you’re covering the needs of the business, while paramount from the company’s perspective, mustn’t constantly override the needs of employees. Avoid going overboard on this because otherwise, you run the risk of employee resentment, declining morale and potential negative impacts to productivity. Again, keep common sense and fairness in mind as you develop your company’s policies and procedures around time off requests.

Having clear, common-sense rules that put everyone on the same page for time off requests will go a long way towards making the management of requests much easier. But your company also needs the right leave management software to keep an accurate record of employee time off, regardless of what kind of leave is being requested. If an affordable, easy-to-use web-based SaaS (software as a service) tool sounds like a potentially good fit for your company, then take a look at CaptureLeave. It is incredibly user-friendly but also powerful enough to get the job done. You can register to try CaptureLeave for free for 60 days to see if it is the right leave tracking app for your company.

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