2020 has been an extraordinary year in so many ways, especially for businesses. Lockdown, furlough and social distancing have all affected how and when people have been able to work, and it’s left many employees with a big chunk of unclaimed annual leave.
Recently, we looked at how employers can help staff clear their annual leave backlog, but not everyone will have been able to get back on track yet. And with the holiday year coinciding with the calendar year, many firms are now reaching a critical management point.
If you’re concerned about the amount of holiday your team still has left in their entitlement, take a look at WhosOff’s four suggestions for dealing with unused leave below. It’s based on our experience helping thousands of UK businesses to manage time off more effectively.
Set staff a final deadline and give plenty of notice
With everything that’s happened this year, your employees may well have lost track of how many days’ leave they have left to take – especially if they’ve been furloughed. Now is the time to remind your workforce that the current holiday year is coming to an end, and the rules around when any unused holiday needs to be booked.
But while a final deadline can prompt people to utilise those last few days in their allocation, it’s important that a sudden flurry of holiday requests doesn’t disrupt operations. Many WhosOff customers started using our software because it provides a single view of all leave bookings, to prevent calendar clashes or too many staff taking the same time off.
Also, everything is done online, so it stops HR teams or line managers being overwhelmed by paperwork and email requests.
Close down operations over Christmas
Not all companies shut their doors between Christmas and New Year – but adopting this approach in 2020 could help you reset the holiday calendar, while giving your team members a well-earned break.
Most businesses that close down operations ask employees to reserve the appropriate number of days from their annual leave entitlement to cover this period. So, if you decide to close the office this year, unclaimed leave can be used to cover the time off.
However, bear in mind that not all staff will have a holiday backlog to deal with; some may have used all their time off already. An online leave planner can help you to see at-a-glance how many days each employee has remaining, to shape your decision on shutting down operations over the Christmas period.
Allow flexi time so staff can work shorter hours
With all the disruption of this year’s pandemic, many professionals are now playing career catch up – especially if they’ve been furloughed for any period of time. This may mean they’re struggling to book time off, despite having annual leave left to use.
Looking at holiday entitlement in hours as well as days can give you a more flexible approach to managing leave. Staff members may not want to take a full day off, but they’d be happy to work shorter hours for the rest of the year, to use up their remaining leave entitlement.
If you’re considering this approach, it’s very important that you have the flexibility to calculate holiday in both hours and days. Print management company, Systematic, is a great example of how well flexi time can work if you’ve got the right system in place to manage it – they’re using our sister platform, WhosOffice, for the job.
Read Systematic’s flexible working story
Carry it over into next year
Rather than creating a flurry of annual leave requests in the last few weeks of the year, the simplest thing might be to allow your staff to carry over unused holiday into 2021. In fact, this approach is being encouraged as the best option for both employers and employees; in March, the government announced a relaxation of rules around carry over as a response to COVID-19, with workers in certain industries able to use unclaimed leave over the next two years.
Investing in software like WhosOff will enable your business to set rules around annual leave; for example, whether your team can carry all unclaimed leave into a new holiday year, or if there’s a limit on the number of days they can roll forward. You can also set department limits, controlling how many people from each team can be off at the same time, to manage the flow of annual leave requests going forward.
Equally, managing holiday through online software will enable you to personalise the number of days off each person is entitled to, and to keep a close eye on how they are using it during the year. And WhosOff also has a restricted access setting, so employees can log on to check their allowance and view the holiday calendar, without being able to edit their settings.
Head into 2021 on the front foot
2020 has created so many logistical headaches for business leaders, but an annual leave backlog doesn’t have to add fuel to the fire. With a clear strategy in place, supported by the right leave management software, your business can help employees to manage their remaining time off effectively – so you can head into 2021 on the front foot.
Try WhosOff leave management software for free to improve the way your business coordinates staff holiday bookings.
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Photos by Tim Mossholder and cottonbro of Pexels.com, Hello I'm Nik, Chris Hardy, Erik Mclean, Joshua Sortino and Anastasiia Chepinska of Unsplash.com
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Posted by Tony Bushell
on Monday, 30th November 2020
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