How To Handle Vacation Scheduling So Everyone Can Relax

Vacation requests

Closed Gone fishin’.

Probably every small business owner would like to hang out a sign like this on his or her business at some point during the summer and get away somewhere to relax.

I hope it’s on your schedule, but I also know that your employees will want to get away as well. What are the best ways to handle the scheduling and logistics of accommodating vacation time during the summer? (As a side note, with schools expanding the length of their school year, for many families the summer “vacation” time is getting pinched.)

Is closing an option?

Some years ago, I knew a family-owned and mostly operated restaurant that just closed its doors for a week or two in the summer. It was run by two brothers whose families were close and they often enjoyed vacationing together, so shutting the doors was their solution to the problem. If you have some dead slow weeks during the summer, consider this approach. However, it’s not a strategy that works for many small businesses.

The first step in solving almost every problem that involves personnel decisions, is to have a policy in place and stick to it. Any vacation, or time-off policy, should cover these basic points:

  • The procedure for requesting time off.
  • The person who approves time off requests.
  • The amount of advance notice that is required.
  • Blackout days or weeks.
  • How requests are prioritized and conflicts resolved.

In practice, be sure that employees know which dates have already been granted to someone – keep a vacation calendar posted where everyone can see it. When two employees want the same time off, often they are able to work it out between themselves. If they can’t, be sure you are fair and stick to your policy.

Consider business needs

In terms of managing your business during times when employees are likely to put in for vacation time, consider the needs of your business. Avoid scheduling new projects that require the presence of certain employees when they may be out of town. Meet with your small business team before vacation season is in full swing and discuss any issues like these and encourage them to get their vacation requests in early.

As a small business owner you want vacations to be a time when members of your crew can get their batteries recharged. You don’t want to drain them with conflicts and snags in their plans before they even get out of town – let the airlines and long lines at the theme parks do that!

Well, that’s enough on the subject. I think I’ll start checking my calendar to see when we can get away this summer…

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