Do your business operations grind to a halt this time of year? It starts with May graduations. Everyone in the office seems to have child or sibling that’s getting a diploma. Then June is a flurry of weddings. By this time, the vacation season is in full swing as employees take advantage of their kids’ school recess. Plus those suspicious “sick” days that increase when the weather is, well, irresistible. Memorial Day and Independence Day might as well each last a week because no one seems to be around.
Don’t accept summer productivity lulls as unavoidable. Use workforce management to stay profitable during the summer months. The practices you will establish will also help you year-round.
Here are several ways your time and attendance and scheduling software can help. Proactive and efficient management is just as important for salaried employees as hourly employees. Ditto for full-time workers and part-timers. If you have a mix of employee types and compensation structures, it’s even more critical.
Create Time and Attendance Policies
Lack of a schedule management plan is mismanagement. The critical step of creating a policy is often overlooked by small business owners. (“I only have a few employees, we can work it out without anything formal.”) But it’s important for any size employer. Absences can have an outsized impact on a small staff. Let’s suppose you have five employees. Two of them need the same week off. If they are both gone, you have lost 40% of your workforce during that week.
Get Everyone’s Input
Involve your employees in creating the policies. Asking them for input gets the whole process off to a good start. They may have ideas you’ve never thought of. You will have much greater buy-in.
Your time and attendance plan should be a part of overall Human Resources company policies. It is tied to compensation. And it must comply with all applicable laws.
Use workforce management analytics to understand how and when absences impact productivity. Your analytics may reveal that you only have problems during certain seasons. Use historical data to create policies that address real-world vacation activities at your company. A state holiday or local event may be just as popular as a national holiday. You may have hunters who like a mid-October vacation.
Use WFM Onboarding and Training Tools
Use workforce management templates to document your vacation and PTO policies. Then enter it into your WFM software training module. Use the outline to make sure you have covered all necessary contingencies.
If you already have an absence management plan, make sure it is updated to reflect new Family Leave and Predictive Scheduling regulations.
Your time and attendance plan should address the following:
- Who is eligible for vacation time? Full-time and part-time employees? Just full-time?
- How far in advance does an employee need to request vacation or other planned absences?
- What about last-minute vacation opportunities?
- How are vacation requests submitted?
- How long does the manager have to approve or disapprove a request?
- What does an employee do when they wake up sick and can’t come to work? Is a doctor’s note required for extended absences?
- Conflicts: If two or more employees want the entire week of July 4th off, how do you decide? By seniority? First come, first served?
- PTO accruals: Do you distinguish between sick days, personal days, and vacation days?
- How are these days allotted? Do unused days roll over? Are unused days compensated upon termination? Does vacation time accrue during Family Leave?
- Can employees opt to be paid instead of taking vacation time?
- Can employees who want a vacation early in the year “borrow” against unearned vacation time? (This could help stagger vacations through the year. Make sure you define what happens if the employee is terminated before they’ve paid back the early vacation hours.)
- What does the employee need to do prior to the time off? This could include assigning tasks to co-workers or notifying clients whose accounts they manage.
- What does the employee need to do upon return?
- Is your plan compliant with Family Leave and Predictive Scheduling laws?
- What are the penalties for breaking the rules?
Self-Service Training With WFM Modules
Now you’ve got to get the word out to your employees. Ideally, long before vacation season. Workforce management software with onboarding or training tools streamlines this process. Require all employees (new and existing) to complete the policy training module. Have each sign and agree to comply. Signature confirmation verifies to managers and HR when employees finish reading the policies. Now they are accountable and you are protected in the event there is a labor dispute.
Managers Can Make or Break a Policy
Make sure your managers follow the policies. It will ensure that vacations are approved fairly. This takes the heat off managers when an employee is denied a desired week due to a conflict with another employee. No one can accuse the manager of favoritism if the denial was handled according to company policy.
Use Analytics for Hiring
If summertime vacations have put a dent in productivity, keep that in mind when hiring. During interviews, ask the candidate when they desire vacation time. If your next hire likes taking ski vacations in February, they might be a great fit if the rest of your employees are summer vacationers.
Workforce management interviewing software helps you keep track all necessary questions. Update your interviewing guide as your business evolves.
How To Avoid Summer Coverage Gaps
Even when you manage vacations according to policy, you still need to maintain productivity. Here are some actions employers can take, depending on the type of business they own:
- Hire seasonal workers to cover during vacation season. (You could reach out to former quality employees who are already trained. They may want some extra cash without a long-term commitment.)
- Hire part-time workers. WFM scheduling software can help you schedule part-timers and shorter shifts. Reliable part-timers who will cover on short notice are extremely valuable.
- Use WFM scheduling software to stagger breaks to maintain coverage.
- Give incentives for taking vacations in the off-season.
- Shorten business hours during peak vacation season.
- Allow willing employees to work longer hours to cover for absent co-workers.
- Offer productivity incentives for summer shifts. Maybe your employees can compensate for fewer employees during peak vacation season. If this works out well, you might be able to offer productivity-based schedules going forward. Innovative schedules are a big draw for job candidates who have many options.
- Ask for volunteers to be on-call. (Make sure you don’t break any applicable laws that apply to on-call shifts.)
Your scheduling managers and Human Resources personnel need vacations as well. (Maybe especially!) With workforce management software, these administrators can easily cover for vacationing co-workers. Employees can use the self-service portal to access time card, schedules, and payroll information. No one will have to stay late on a gorgeous summer evening and Human Resources workflows won’t be disrupted.
SwipeClock’s WorkforceHUB helps your business stay on track when the office is a revolving door for vacationing employees. To schedule a demo, visit WorkforceHUB for vacation management.
By Liz Strikwerda