Prevent Employee Vacation Scheduling Nightmares

Enforcing time-off guidelines will keep your company staffed and productive during vacation season
Prevent Employee Vacation Scheduling Nightmares
Keep a vacation policy in place to avoid problems when your employees want to hit the beach.

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As an employer, it is important for you to give your team members time off. They need some extended break periods to recharge their batteries, renew their energy, and regain their focus. That’s why it’s actually advantageous for your company not just to offer vacation time, but to encourage employees to use it.

But of course, if all your employees take vacation time during the same week, that could cause an obvious problem. You need to give your employees vacation time, but not to the detriment of your business. You can’t work with a skeleton crew and you can’t just shut down the business – so what are you supposed to do?

It’s important to be mindful and consistent in your approach to employee vacation scheduling, which can save you from getting into trouble – especially during the summer, the Christmas season and other peak vacation times.

Communicate the expectations

Hopefully, your company has some basic policies in place for vacation scheduling. Maybe you require written requests to be submitted two weeks in advance. Maybe there are certain periods of time – like around Christmas – where you reserve the right to limit or prohibit vacation days. Whatever your policies, ensure that you communicate them up front to your employees; have this discussion during the initial interview, or at least as part of new employee onboarding.

Some new employees, of course, will require certain days off, perhaps as part of their religious or family commitments. That, too, should be discussed in advance.

Show some muscle

As the team leader, you have the right to rearrange employee vacation schedules, or to deny certain PTO requests, in order to meet the company’s staffing needs. Wield this power when you need to – but make sure you’re clear about it up front. Again, this should be written in your employee handbook and verbally discussed with new hires.

Even as you flex this muscle, though, don’t overdo it. Deny vacation requests judiciously – remembering that a harsh or rigid approach will have a negative effect on morale.

Empower employees

Of course, many employees will be happy to schedule their vacation time for weeks when the office is not understaffed. Help them help you: Provide a calendar or schedule on which vacation days are marked, and encourage employees to consult it when planning their own breaks.

And when employees are preparing to go on vacation, instruct them to prepare checklists of the tasks that need to be done in their absence. These checklists will prove useful to the other employees who may be picking up the slack.

Sweeten the deal

Here’s a final suggestion: If there are seasons in which vacation requests are especially popular, and you’re worried about your entire team stampeding out the door, why not offer them a little something for not going on vacation? An incentive, such as a small bonus or even a team lunch, might entice some employees to stay at work during these popular “off” days.

Regulating employee vacations may require a mixture of sweetness and force. Master that mixture to maintain a happy workforce and adequate staffing. 

About the Author
Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland.

Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, Web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


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