Depending on the size of your staff, managing around your employees’ vacation schedules can be a thorny issue. That’s especially true for a small operation. With just a few employees, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy and to cover the workload.

Employees often want to take off the same weeks because of major holidays and school schedules if they have children.

You have to consider the needs of your business and communicate with your workers using tact while treating everyone fairly. Employee morale is paramount for profits.

Use a firm hand but try to approach the vacation issue with the attitude of a partner with your employees.

So how do you organize schedules?

Consider five simple tips:

1. Develop a leave policy that spells out the rules. You should make it clear time off is given on a first-come, first served basis.

Employees should know the maximum number of days or weeks to which they’re entitled.

What if employees don’t use up their vacations? Decide whether you’ll allow them to carry their vacations to the following year.

Determine when employees won’t be allowed time off to accommodate your company’s needs. Reserve the right to change the holiday schedules in the event of business emergencies.

2. Take steps to avoid scheduling conflicts by publicizing your team members’ schedules. Allow your staff members to see the vacation schedules for everybody. This makes scheduling the responsibility of your workers.

You have to consider the needs of your business and communicate with your workers using tact while treating everyone fairly.

3. Set a deadline for employees to submit vacation requests. This will prevent unnecessary last-minute scheduling issues and unpleasant discussions with your staff members.

4. Consider a lottery system if everybody wants time off at the same time. It seems most employees want to take time off in early July or during other major holidays, such as between Christmas and New Year’s.

The first-come, first-served policy might not be workable. Some businesses aren’t busy that week, so everyone is given time off.

5. Develop contingency plans to cover the workload. Can other employees do the work? Do you need to hire a temp or freelancer?

Either way, it’s important that the fill-in person have a written report on the status of the projects that need to be completed. The person needs to know what the duties are, the approaching deadlines and the people who are involved.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are tips for effective management:

Tips for Marketing Your HR-Policy Changes to Employees — So you’ve identified workplace policies that need to be updated. But you want your policies to be accepted and followed by your employees. Employees are often uncomfortable with change even if it’s necessary for a business turnaround. Remember high morale among employees propels profits.

Small Business – Easy Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Morale — Employee morale affects performance. Study after study shows a significant percentage of worker morale is mediocre, at best. That’s often the case even for companies that are able to pay competitive wages and benefits. As you might guess, it’s a bigger quandary for business owners that don’t have enough cash flow for raises.

Lesson for Compassionate Bosses from Employees — If you’re a boss, don’t expect appreciation, commitment or loyalty from a worker you help with personal and work issues. Employees take it for granted, according to IMD business-school research. “Managers and employees alike appreciate that controlling negative emotions can be important within an organization,” said research co-author Professor Ginka Toegel.

Four Tips to Motivate Employees When You’re Facing Adversity — Effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. If they don’t have such an antenna, it’s important for them to develop one for multiple credibility reasons. Even the bosses of small companies can suffer from image problems externally and internally.

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”

-Stephen Covey


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.