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Out of office: How to prepare for holiday leave this summer

With summer just around the corner, businesses face the inevitable yearly challenge of balancing an influx of annual leave requests with keeping the company running at full capacity. Absence management is a vital, yet often overlooked part of running a business – get it wrong and the impact of summer holidays can last all year round.

Large retailers are a case in point. Some of their busiest times are over summer as people stock up on items for BBQs, picnics and trips away. If too many staff members are off at one time and there is a peak in demand, the customer experience can quickly suffer. This is likely to damage the retailer’s relationship with the customer.

Employees will suffer as well. The impact of being understaffed will leave many feeling overworked and undervalued, which has a huge impact on staff morale. The important thing to remember is that getting it right doesn’t have to be a struggle. This is why here at SD Worx we have put together our top tips to consider to not only survive, but thrive during the summer holiday season.

Manage demand

Fifty-six percent of employees in Europe generally have the freedom to take a holiday as and when they choose. However, the approach to how holiday is granted differs depending on the country. In France for example, 29% of employees either never or generally don’t have the opportunity to take a holiday at times that suit them best. This is in contrast to Belgium, where only 15% of employees lack the freedom to choose holiday as they wish, or Austria, where 18% claim this to be the case.

It’s reasonable to expect employees to want to take time off during summer months as schools are closed and people hunt out the summer sun. The benefits to employee engagement and productivity are obvious. The issue is making sure that even with an increased amount of employees on holiday, the business can still run effectively.

Create clear processes

To ensure holiday doesn’t impact the business too much, it’s vital to create clear procedures and processes that employees and HR departments can follow. The first step towards this is ensuring that holiday leave is integrated into rostering, scheduling and time sheets in order to be planned for efficiently.

While capacity planning is a key consideration for HR departments during summer, there also have to be clear guidelines throughout the whole year which dictate holiday entitlement and pay calculation. This will help to avoid any issues as the terms of holidays are clearly laid out well in advance of any busy periods.

Work collaboratively

Ultimately, holiday has to be worked out in a way that balances both the employer’s and employee’s needs. The best way to do that is by working as a team. 31% of employees in Europe currently work with their managers and colleagues to arrange their holiday leave. The UK was fairly under the average at only 20%, showing some room for improvement. Yet, on the other hand, the UK scored considerably higher (60%) than other countries in Europe when it came to arranging holiday with only one manager.

In contrast, in Belgium and France, the figures for employees being able to decide holiday on their own were surprisingly high with Belgium scoring 17% and France 15%.

Summer is a difficult time for businesses as requests for holiday leave, along with customer demand, tend to increase. Preparing for it in the right way can not only avoid problems, it can have a long-term positive effect on your business. If you’re looking for ways to better manage holiday through the summer period then check out SD Worx’s Absence Management features to learn more.