Handling Holiday Requests the Smart Way — A Complete Guide

While all employees need to do is request a holiday, it can become a tedious task for the management to understand which ones to approve. While the holiday period translates into excitement for most, for the management, it might mean dealing with loads of holiday requests from employees.

Be it a manager or be it a fresher, everyone requires a break from their work to rejuvenate themselves and get back to work with more enthusiasm. Working relentlessly for days without taking a break may actually end up exhausting the cognitive resources that their employees have and it could lead to burnout for them. All of us need a break from the routine, and hence, asking for holidays from our workplace is something that none of us can actually run away from.

While all the employees need to do is make a request for a holiday, it can become a tedious task for the management to understand which ones to approve and do so accordingly. So while the holiday period translates into excitement for most of us, for the management, it might mean dealing with loads of holiday requests from their employees.

We have collated for you some guidelines on how to handle holiday vacation requests in a smart way without creating any hassles:

  1. Create a vacation or holiday calendar

An answer to how to handle holiday vacation requests from employees starts with this basic step. At the beginning of every year, the company can create a holiday calendar for the year. This calendar could include festivals or national holidays given by the company usually. It should preferably also have a mention of weekly holidays that are allotted to the employees.

While creating a holiday calendar, the company needs to keep in mind the background and the diversity of the workforce. Especially in terms of religious festivals, the company needs to consider what festivals the employees might be celebrating and allot holidays accordingly. To ensure the same, the company and employees need to have clear, two-way and transparent communication. Allotting people religious holidays, especially to the ones from diverse backgrounds, actually builds the trust between the company management and that employee.

  1. Create a policy for paid leaves

Creating policy for paid leaves is of utmost importance to bring in fairness and transparency in the affairs of the company. This policy, preferably in written form, has to be handed over to the employees at the time of their joining. Having this policy in place saves a lot of hassle for the management and even for the employees while planning their vacations and while handling the holiday vacation requests.

The paid leaves policy can include the following details:

  • The total number of paid leaves offer in one year
  • The days that are exceptions to the paid leaves — like a company foundation day when the employees cannot take an off
  • The limit of the number of employees on leave at any given point of time
  • The breakup of the paid leaves, if there is any
  • The period of advance notice that employees have to give to apply for leaves under the leave policy

Having this kind of policy in place sets guidelines for the employees to ask for paid leaves. It saves trouble for the company to deny these leaves in times when there are very few employees present in the office or when employees are asking for leaves on important days for the company. But for the leave policy to be effective, it has to be established by considering the opinion of all the employees that it is going to affect.

Along with that, the leave policy should be binding on all the employees, including people in higher authority and position. This practice sets the bar of transparency higher for the company and increases the trust of the employees in the management.

  1. Communication is the key

There has to be regular communication between the management and employees. The leaves that an employee is asking for need not only be limited to vacations. The employee could actually go through some personal crisis or a family problem which might need their attention over there. Granting a leave request in such a tough period could be a way of showing your concern to your employee. Moreover, such requests have to be prioritised over requests for vacations. But to be able to do that, one needs to know that an employee is going through some problems. And to know that there has to be effective communication between the employees and the management of the company.

Many times, managers are afraid to make personal connections with employees with the fear that they will no longer have a hold on their employees if they get too friendly. But being a decent human being does not mean you cannot manage your employees. Furthermore, inquiring about an employee’s wellbeing or showing your concern to them does not mean that you are getting unnecessarily friendly with the employees.

  1. Enable employees to take charge of conflict situations

How to handle holiday vacation requests is a tough question to answer. But a tougher question for the management is how to straighten out any conflicts arising from the same. Whenever there is a conflict situation regarding the holidays of the employees, the best thing that the management can do is to ask the employees to gather together and resolve that kind of conflict on their own. Not only does this practice facilitate the conversation between the employees, but it also helps them to hone their skills of assertiveness and confrontation. It also places the power in the hands of employees from the management, which, in turn, builds trust in employees since they are given a charge of the situation without saman making decisions for them.

The management can facilitate the discussion between the employees to direct them to a particular goal. But even without the management’s intervention, this exercise proves to be beneficial for the employees to be assertive about their needs.

  1. Offer incentives to employees when they change the vacation date as per request

How to handle holiday vacation requests and how to motivate them to adjust their leaves? Provide incentives! As mentioned earlier, some employees might want to take leaves for some kind of problems that they are facing, and hence, there could be a possibility of imbalance in the number of people who are on holiday at the same time. In such times it is difficult to deny leaves to the person who is going through a crisis situation. The management would have to ask the person taking leaves for holidays to cancel those. Be it for genuine reasons or for any other reasons — nobody likes to cancel their holidays. In such situations, the management can provide a certain incentive to the employees who adjust their vacation dates as per the request from the management. Doing so not only spreads the spirit of goodwill among the employees but also inculcates values like sensitivity, mutual cooperation in them.

  1. Allow carrying forward of the vacations in the next year

When an employee is asked to cancel the leave by the company, and they agree to do so, their leaves have to be carried forward in the next year. Many times, employees would not want to cancel their leaves if their leaves get wasted upon the year-end, and they do not get a holiday. When the employees are allowed to carry forward their leaves in the next year, they show more readiness in adjusting for other employees or as per management’s requests.

Many employees save up their leaves so that they can take a longer vacation during the year-end, around the holiday season. But if for some reason, it gets cancelled and their leaves are getting wasted, it would demotivate them from work diligently further. By allowing employees to carry forward their lives, the management is not only appraising them for their adaptability but also refraining from taking away their promised leaves.

  1. Make the procedure objective, clear and transparent

The formal procedure to ask for leaves has to be made very transparent and clear. The procedure has to be stated clearly by the management so that the employees can follow it without any confusion. It provides a similar benchmark for all the employees to follow. In any case of a conflict, there is also a clear record of the requests made for the leaves. And if one has to deny them, then on what basis has the request been denied needs to be stated. This practice also serves as an example to the employees that all the employees are treated on equal bases by the management.

While these are the general guidelines to keep in mind while making holiday policies and handling things around it, here are a few more pointers to keep in mind while dealing with holiday requests:

  • Allow employees to make the adjustments and trade-offs between the leaves they are going for and the things they might be losing out on.
  • Having a diverse workforce means that there is a cultural diversity which translates into everyone wanting to celebrate different festivals. As a management person, one needs to keep this aspect in mind and consult the employees beforehand about the festivals they want to celebrate and not just assume for them.
  • As mentioned earlier, the management does not need to be afraid of showing their concern to the employees with the fear that their employees would not be under their control anymore. If we decide to be more human as leaders, it will increase the spirit of wellbeing in the company.

Remember these points while making a leave policy to maintain the balance of work and breaks between the employees. Leave management becomes all the more difficult when the long holiday duration commences. All the best, dear employers and managers!

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