The Most Wonderful Time of Year…for Time Off Requests?

With the holidays approaching, companies can expect to see an increase in their employees’ time off requests, but can these requests be accommodated?


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Holiday Time Off Requests - Planner

With the holidays approaching, companies can expect to see an increase in their employees’ time off requests, and the question on everyone’s minds is can these requests be accommodated? While being able to use time off during the holidays is essential to employee satisfaction, companies may struggle to find fair ways to approve these requests while also staffing for the holidays.

Step One: Set Clear Time Off Expectations

The first thing your company can do is set clear expectations about the holiday time off process so employees know what to expect before they submit their time off. With these expectations in mind, you can still encourage your employees to use their time off while also following the guidelines you’ve created. I’ve listed several ways you can set expectations:

  • Establish clear guidelines for how far in advance employees need to put in their time off requests. If employees are aware of the process, they are more likely to get their time off requests in on time, which means your managers can start planning for holiday coverage in advance.
  • Discuss scheduling needs with your team early on so they understand how many employees need to be at the office each day during the holidays. When you involve your employees in this process, you are both setting expectations and making sure they are not left out in the dark.
  • Create a holiday calendar that shows which days are available for employees to request off. As requests come in, you can update the calendar to display which days are no longer available. You’ll have visibility to the rates of time off requests, and employees will then be able to determine early on if their desired days off are still available before submitting their requests.

Related: Unlimited Vacation Policies: All You’ve Ever Wanted?

Step Two: Develop a Plan for Approval

After you establish these expectations, you may still encounter employees that submit their time off requests for the same day. If you are not able to accommodate these requests, then you will need a fair way to determine who gets their request approved. You may consider approving the requests based on the following factors:

  • First come first serve: A benefit of approving the first request sent in is that it encourages employees to submit their time as soon as they are able to. This makes it much easier for team leaders to manage time off requests fairly while starting to scheduling for the holidays.
  • Seniority: While this process rewards your seasoned employees, you will want to also ensure your newer employees don’t feel like they are not able to take time off.
  • Amount of PTO already used: This option allows you to approve requests from employees that haven’t taken time off throughout the year.
  • Rotating preferences: Have employees take turns being the first to have their holiday requests approved. This option allows all employees to be “first” at some point during the year.
  • Shift trade: Allow employees that work the same job to trade their shifts if they are not able to take the day off. This option works best if the employees need to get managerial approval before going forward with the trade.  
  • Work from home: If your employees are able to accomplish their tasks at home, then you may consider giving them this option if you can’t approve their time off.

Related: ‘Tis the Season To Offer Great Benefits (& Build a Great Team)

Please note that every company is different and the option that works for another company may not work for yours. You will want to meet with your managers and decide which process will be the best fit for your company and its culture.

Ultimately, the holiday season can get hectic for everyone, so setting proper expectations when it comes to time off will simplify things for both your company and your employees.
Happy Holidays!

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