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February 16, 2022

Managing shifts when employees are on vacation


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When you run a business, things tend to get crazy during the holiday season. This is especially true in the case of field service businesses because the majority of your workforce may go on vacation during this season. Therefore, piled onto the craziness of the holidays, as an employer, you also have the added stress of managing your employees’ time off during the busiest time of year.

Things might get tough but that does not mean that holiday scheduling and staffing has to be a constant source of stress for you every year. In this post, we will be providing you with tips on how to manage shifts when employees are on vacation, not just during the holidays but also at times when your workers might simply be on leave.

Set an early deadline for vacation requests

This tip specifically applies during the holiday season. The best way to avoid scheduling issues when a number of your employees may be on vacation is to finalize your business calendar as far in advance as possible. Set a deadline for all employees to send in their leave requests. This way, it will be easy for you to create a holiday schedule for your business in advance. You will also have a precise idea of which of your staff will be available at certain times and which ones won’t.

In addition, make it clear to your employees that you will be enforcing the vacation request deadline strictly so that once you have set the holiday schedule, there will be no room for changes. For a small element of flexibility in case of emergencies such as an employee falling sick, you may opt to allow staff to swap shifts with each other if they really need to. However, let them know that the responsibility is fully on them to ensure that their shifts are covered.

A good measure to take in this situation as well is using time tracking software to help you track paid time off and sick days.

Establish blackout dates

In certain field service industries, demand usually increases around the same time(s) annually. For example, the high demand for cleaning services after New Year’s day when many people throw parties, or the increased demand for gardening or landscaping services in spring. A good way to establish what these specific high-demand seasons are for your business is the implementation of business timeline tracking software, particularly the report and analytics features in such software that will enable you to forecast these periods.

During these high-demand seasons, your business will need all hands on deck. Therefore, once you have been able to forecast when the period(s) will most likely occur, you can establish blackout dates during these periods. Blackout dates are periods within which time off requests from work are made unavailable to employees. You will need to communicate these dates to your staff as early as possible.  Be upfront about your scheduling expectations during these periods to avoid having to deal with difficult conversations later.

Implement time and GPS tracking software

An effective digital time and GPS tracking solution helps manage shifts when employees are on vacation. Using this software, managers can see which of their workers is available and who is on vacation based on who has checked in to work and who has not. This makes it that much easier for you to know who to dispatch and to what projects or tasks. It will also help to avoid the mistake of scheduling someone that is on vacation for an imminent task. Atto makes all of this extremely easy all while offering an extremely user-friendly interface where scheduling and tracking are fast and simple.

Leverage cross-training and seasonal employees

Once you have determined your business schedule, you can proceed to figure out how to sort out coverage issues. If an employee is going to be on vacation at a time when you need them to perform a task which only they have the capabilities to perform, you can ensure that they train other staff on how to handle this task well before their days off.

Also, if you discover that you may not have enough hands on deck at a time when you need them, consider hiring seasonal employees to cover the extra workload. Remember to always be upfront with seasonal employees about what you expect from them timewise. This will help to ensure that they will be fully available to lend a hand when you need them to.

Incentivize staff to work less desirable shifts

Hardly anyone actually wants to work during the holidays. However, holidays or not, you never want to find your business in a situation where you are short-staffed, especially on days when you need help the most. So, a good technique is to incentivize your employees to take those less desirable shifts by offering to pay them more for those hours. s.

When employees are on vacation, it is important for the company to manage their shifts. There are many ways in which this can be done, but the most efficient way is to use a time tracking solution where managers can see who is available and who isn’t.

With Atto, you can manage all kinds of shifts, including holiday and sick leaves. It also helps with optimizing staff schedules by assigning shifts based on their availability. This way the company saves time and money that would otherwise be spent on hiring temporary staff or assigning overtime hours to existing employees.

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