Summer is usually synonymous with trips to the beach and long weekends in the mountains. Taking time off can be fun and rejuvenating for small-business owners, but juggling employees’ vacation requests can be the opposite of relaxing.
While you want your employees to take the time to recharge, you also have a business to run and need to ensure that your customers are taken care of every day of the year. Summer holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, can pose extra challenges because most employees are probably going to want to take vacation at the same time.
At Accenture Staffing, a Raleigh-based staffing agency, employees work in teams and managers have each team work together to determine how to rotate vacations.
“We let the team members work it out together to make sure that everyone gets vacation and all tasks are covered,” said Cindy Waite, the company’s president. “Our experience has been that this approach encourages freedom and flexibility in our employees.”
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Waite said some people take time off before a paid holiday; others take vacation after the holiday.
“This way everyone gets time off around the holidays,” Waite said.
When one of Accenture Staffing’s directors takes vacation, the company has an employee who fills in as well as other team members who rotate to fill in when necessary.
However, this approach may not work for all companies, especially those with multiple part-time employees or high turnover. Waite offers these ideas for staffing during lean vacation time.
Ask for vacation requests at the beginning of the summer so the schedule can be worked out far in advance. This will eliminate last-minute surprises and frustrations. It also allows you to alternate holidays, so if someone works the Fourth of July then let them be off on Labor Day.
Consider offering pay differential for days that are hard to fill, such as holidays. Employees will often volunteer to work the unpopular days or shifts if they are receiving time and a half or double pay.
Waite also suggests using temporary employees or a staffing service to fill essential positions.
To ensure the best quality person, Waite recommends contacting an employment agency at least one to two weeks before you need the employee to start.
While last-minute requests can often be accommodated, it is usually with whoever is available and not necessarily the best match.
Show appreciation for those who cover for vacations or work holidays. Bring bagels or order lunch as a thank you to the staff.
Another option is to reward employees by giving them a pass on less enjoyable shared office tasks in the future or letting them work a lucrative shift or earning extra sales leads.
Jennifer Gregory is a business writer who lives in Wake Forest. Find her online at jennifergregorywriter.com.