9 tips to help with your time-off policy

by Nicky Budd-Thanos, on June 18, 2019

Summer is officially here, which can mean one big thing for managers: incoming requests for time-off. These requests can add up quickly, and processing them can turn into a major time-suck for management. With some helpful tips and tweaks to your policy, fielding these requests doesn’t have to be so time-consuming. Read on for nine tips to streamline your process:

1. Create a transparent policy
Your time-off policy should be clear and easy to understand and follow. If your employees struggle to adhere to the policy, it may be a sign that it needs to be reworked.

Ideally, it should detail the method for requesting time off, the amount of time necessary between the request and the day off, and various rules that are specific to your team, such as who schedules a replacement for a shift or the company’s philosophy for unpaid leave. All new employees should be informed of the policy when they begin work.

2. Institute one method for requesting time off - and stick to it
A manager’s job is busy enough without trying to answer time-off requests from texts, handwritten notes, and in-person meetings. Centralize the process by using one method for employees to request their time off.

You may want to consider using Crew for this. Employees can easily send requests for time-off to their managers by using their smartphones. Crew also allows managers to keep a written record of employee requests, so you can refer back to previous messages when scheduling shifts. For an easy resource to share with your employees on requesting time off, check out last week’s Crew Tips: How do I request time off on Crew?

3. Give clear access to the shift schedule
Your shift schedule should always be readily available to all employees, regardless of where they physically are. Putting the schedule into your employees’ hands is a good tactic if your employees have been disgruntled about denied vacation time. The more they know about the time-off request policy and subsequent schedules, the less likely they’ll be to think it’s unfair if they aren’t approved for time off.

With Crew, you can instantly distribute the schedule, along with any changes, to your employees right on their smartphones. Do you use When I Work? Learn about how we’ve integrated with When I Work’s scheduling software to keep things especially streamlined and available to employees.

4. Be fair
Be fair in how you approve or deny a time-off request. If you find yourself continually denying the same employee because the company can’t run without them, you need to reevaluate your staffing model and perhaps your hiring process. One or two employees should not be held to a higher standard than the others simply because they do an essential job. Instead, use this situation as an opportunity to hire more employees or cross-train your current ones.

5. Limit number of requests
If you have some employees who are constantly requesting vacation, you may want to consider setting some parameters around the number of requests an employee can place within a certain amount of time.

You may also want to limit the request time based on an employee’s working hours. For example, full-time employees may be eligible for more time under the vacation policy than part-time employees, which may permit the full-time employees to put in more requests for time off. However you decide to structure this, ensure that employees are aware of the policy.

6. Plan for overlapping requests
You’ll definitely run into a time where several employees ask for the same day off, especially around the holidays (4th of July is coming up!). Prepare for this by making some rules that govern which employee’s request is granted when not everyone can take the same time off.

For example, you can use a first-come-first-serve basis. If that doesn’t make sense for your team, leave the decision up to managerial discretion. Supervisors know their teams’ needs better than anyone, so allow them to determine the vacation schedule. Whatever you choose to do, the most critical piece is making sure that your employees are aware of how these decisions are being made.

7. Allow shift trades
If you allow your employees to trade shifts with another co-worker when they need the day off, it gives them some freedom and flexibility they may need for their personal lives, which is critical for morale and employee satisfaction.

You can even write into the policy that employees are responsible for finding someone to cover their shifts, which will not only empower them in their role, but also eliminate a large chunk of time that management might spend trying to find a replacement. Shift trades are a win-win for both employees and management. Get a breakdown of how easy this is with Crew on Crew Tips: How do I request shift coverage?

8. Anticipate emergency absences
Everyone has emergencies that prevent them from coming into work. Unless a staff member is abusing the excuse, don’t get flustered when it happens. Instead, make sure that every job can be covered by at least one other person who is scheduled to work at the same time. In the event that an emergency occurs, you might be short-staffed, but at least a job won’t go completely undone.

Showing understanding and compassion for your employees when an emergency arises will reinforce a team mentality.

9. Have a back-up plan
The flu could sweep through your business, leaving you with only a couple of people able to work. So what do you do? In this case, a back-up plan means having several dependable part-time employees on hand to call in if you’re short-staffed. Make sure to check in with them regularly so you’ll know who’s available if you need them. The holidays and seasonal busy times are especially important times to have an extra group of reliable workers on speed dial - make sure you prepare accordingly!

Ultimately, remember that your company’s time-off policy should be easily available to all employees: included in the employee handbook, given to all new hires and digitally available. To find out how Crew will ease the headaches of scheduling, shift coverage and handling time off, get in touch with us today!

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

Topics:Best PracticesInternal CommunicationsScheduling