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Can your holiday management system cope with a post-lockdown surge?

Friday, 19 Mar 2021

The UK government has unveiled its roadmap out of lockdown – and many people now feel confident to start planning a well-deserved break. But this sense of relief could put pressure on employers, who are likely to see a surge in holiday requests over the coming weeks.

Road out of UK lockdown

If you’re a manager or work in HR, chance are you’ve started getting questions about annual leave entitlement from team members. Perhaps you’ve seen an increase in people wanting time off already? If your holiday management system is up to scratch, this won’t be an issue.

But for many firms, a surge in post-lockdown leave requests could push your current leave management process to breaking point...

A sudden surge can cause costly mistakes

Coordinating the holiday calendar can be complex at the best of times, but the global pandemic has disrupted annual leave planning entirely.

At one end of the scale, employees have used all their entitlement during lockdown in order to home-school children or care for shielding relatives. At the other end, staff have saved up their days until they can go out and enjoy themselves again – creating an annual leave backlog.

Depending on when your holiday year starts and ends, it’s likely that some members of your team will have a big chunk of time off left to use. And the Prime Minister’s plan for relaxing all social restrictions by 21st June will open the floodgates for holiday requests.

If you’re currently relying on a spreadsheet or paper form system to track and manage time off, this sudden surge in activity could cause significant problems:

  • Managers and HR staff become overwhelmed with requests – and overflowing inboxes lead to important work-related emails being missed
  • It takes ages to check each person’s request against their total entitlement and who else has booked the day off, taking senior personnel away from business tasks
  • Eager employees become frustrated with the time it’s taking to approve their request, missing out on the flights or accommodation they wanted to book
  • Team leaders download their own copy of the holiday calendar to update it offline, meaning there are multiple versions being re-saved to the system
  • Version control problems result in two people who work closely together having the same holiday dates approved, causing staffing shortages further down the line
  • Employee holiday entitlements aren’t calibrated correctly, so people end up taking off more time than they’re allowed – creating kick-back among their colleagues

None of these scenarios are ideal. In fact, they could have a huge impact on company productivity and damage staff morale. So how can your business develop a more effective system for planning staff holiday?

Avoid ‘request stress’ with online leave management software

The easiest way to streamline annual leave is to invest in an online holiday calendar, so that every request is validated and recorded through one digital portal.

WhosOff monthly overview screenshot

By centralising everything to do with time off, managers and HR staff only need one login to catch up on employee bookings – rather than sifting their way through dozens of messages. They’ll receive a simple alert email when there’s something new to review.

Plus, you can give everyone in the company their own (limited) access to the system, so they can check the status of their requested leave, rather than chasing up busy team leaders. And when their request has been dealt with, they’ll be sent a direct email with the response.

Taking leave management online also ensures that your holiday calendar is always accurate and accessible to everyone. Meaning:

  • Every employee can see who’s booked time off before submitting their requests
  • Calendar clashes are highlighted immediately, preventing staffing shortages and conflicts of interest
  • Several people can update the calendar at once without overwriting each other
  • Managers can approve or decline leave in one click, based on complete visibility of all confirmed holiday bookings

A good leave management system has other built-in features to make coordinating people’s time off even easier. For example, any approved time off will be deducted from that employee’s total leave entitlement. Also, other types of leave can be logged in the same system – such as medical appointments, external meetings, compassionate leave and time off in lieu – so senior staff make decisions based on a full picture of exactly who’s available.

Staff are able to use mobile apps to record sickness

Get your whole team up to speed before social restrictions are lifted

A surge in leave requests might seem like a one-off event, but it’s amazing how disruptive managing time off can become. Little mistakes and inefficiencies add up, slowly draining productivity and impacting people’s morale.

The best way to manage staff leave effectively is to invest in an online holiday calendar, and now is the time to do it. This way, you can onboard your system and get the whole team up to speed before the last social restrictions are lifted.

WhosOff provides leave management software to business users worldwide, who’ve logged over 14.3 million days off through our online portal. And because our technology is cloud-based, you can sign up and start using it the same day.

Interested? Start your free WhosOff trial today. There’s no obligation to subscribe and you’ll have access to all our holiday calendar features, along with free email and telephone support.

Start Your Free Trial

Photo by Askar Abayev, Deva Darshan, Pixabay, David Geib, Tembela Bohle and Pratik Gupta of Pexels.com

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Posted by Tony Bushell

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