Tips for handling time-off requests around the holidays

With the holidays approaching, employees are planning their trips to catch up with distant family members or escape to tropical destinations. While it’s completely understandable to want time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, if every employee leaves town that week, there will be no one left to keep the business running. So, when the time-off requests start trickling in, it’s up to human resources personnel to manage these requests in a manner that’s fair to both the company and its employees.

As an HR manager, you want to grant every time-off request that comes in, because you know firsthand that taking time away from the office to spend with loved ones allows you to recharge and be more productive when you return. But it’s always not feasible to give every employee the precise time off they request, so here are some tips to handle these requests fairly.

Ensure the company’s time-off policy is understood

Make sure all your employees are aware of the company’s time off policies, and the manner in which time-off requests are granted. You can inform employees of this when they’re hired, but it’s not a bad idea to send out an annual reminder via company memo. That way, when the holidays approach, employees should know to plan ahead and comply with the company time-off policies.

Grant requests in a fair manner

The best approach is usually to grant employees’ requests in the order in which you received them. If seniority does play a role in receiving PTO, make sure this is known by all employees, so no one gets the impression that you’re giving preference to certain people arbitrarily.

Track incoming requests

Use an organized system to track requests as they come in and as you grant them. That will help you avoid the dreaded scenario of giving an employee permission to take time off and then having to rescind that permission because everyone else in their department asked for the same time off.

Track past requests

Archive previous years’ time off requests so you know that certain employees aren’t always granted premium vacation time slots while others are shafted. If a situation arises where you need at least one member of the department to work in-office at all times, you can use time-off records to ensure the same employee isn’t always stuck working on a holiday.

Compensate those employees who do work on holidays

Make sure you offer proper incentive for employees who work during the holidays. Offer bonuses, increased pay, or other rewards, such as extra vacation time in January.

Handling time-off requests around the holidays can be tricky, but these tips will help you do so in a manner that’s fair to both the company and its employees. This will keep morale high, which is especially important during this wonderful time of year!