Employers across every industry must tackle a rush of PTO requests around the holidays. Even with a clearly written employee handbook and employee policies, managing employee time off requests is challenging. In 2021’s holiday season, morale and employee retention are also imperative. Companies are experiencing a wave of employee resignations and a crippling lack of applicants for open jobs. MP’s HR services team offers six tactics for prioritizing employee PTO requests during the holiday rush.
6 Proven Tactics for Managing Employee Time Off Requests
1. Prioritize by tenure
This tactic is common and will inspire minimal employee pushback because it’s expected. Employers should note this tactic does have one pitfall: it may have a long-term effect on employee retention. This is because it could discourage staff with less tenure. Ideally, this isn’t the only tactic employers utilize for handling employee PTO requests.
2. Coordinate vacation requests as a team
Employers with small teams may find it practical to discuss vacation plans together and schedule PTO requests. This collaborative process ensures all business needs are covered and all employee plans are shared and considered. Coordinating vacation requests as a team may also improve employee engagement because the staff will feel empowered and valued.
3. Prioritize by the business needs or deadlines
Some organizations may have special hours or deadlines around the holidays. If employers need to blackout dates for PTO, they should let employees know as soon as possible. They should also include blackout dates in employee policies in the company manual. An additional strategy for reducing pushback is offering staff an extra incentive (such as higher pay) for schedules that are hard to fill.
4. Develop a rotating schedule
Another tactic that nurtures employee engagement is managing employee time off requests based on a rotation. It will feel fair to all employees, no matter how long their tenure is, when they made their request, etc. Employers should also note having a predictable and consistent system for approving or denying PTO requests will simplify scheduling for managers. This tactic is especially beneficial with a larger staff.
5. Utilize managerial discretion
Employers must tread cautiously with this tactic, as it may alienate employees. If employers will use this tactic, MP’s HR compliance experts strongly suggest employers train managers on avoiding discriminatory action. Particularly based on the following:
- The Americans with Disabilities (ADA)
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Relevant state paid family and medical leave laws with discrimination protections (which may impact approving or rejecting PTO requests)
6. Implement a temporary shutdown
This tactic is usually a last resort for many employers. However, organizations will use it more commonly in 2021. Companies that don’t usually offer a holiday shutdown are attempting to boost employee engagement by providing one. For employers struggling with employee retention, this tactic might effectively manage the rush of holiday PTO requests.
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