Managing Holiday Vacation Requests: 5 Tips to Maintain Employee and Customer Cheer

Whether your business is large or small, managing employee vacation requests at the end of the year can be complicated. It’s inevitable that most employees will want time off over the holidays, but how do you manage those requests without compromising your workflow or overloading other employees?

1. Understand what staffing needs your business has during the holiday season. Is it a busy time or slow time for you? What needs to get done, and how many people do you need to do it? Retail stores, for example, are particularly busy during the holiday season, and not only do they need all the staff they have, they probably need about 25 percent more.

2. Establish a deadline for vacation requests and communicate that clearly with your employees. This allows you to measure those requests against your plan and make good decisions about end-of-year staffing. Let employees know that requests submitted after the deadline have a good chance of not being granted.

3. Establish a policy for prioritizing requests and stick to it. There are a variety of ways to prioritize vacation requests, and different methods will work for different teams. Just make sure you communicate your policy for prioritization to your employees.

Here are a few common methods of prioritization:

  • Prioritize in order of request receipt.
  • Prioritize in order of seniority.
  • Prioritize by lottery system.
  • Prioritize as an incentive for meeting goals.

4. If you think you’ll be understaffed, get professional help. A staffing agency can help you recruit, train, and manage employees during the holiday season so you have the help you need without the extra work of hiring temporary employees. Remember that even with the most meticulous planning, there are sure to be some unplanned days where employees will be out.

5. Post your holiday schedule as soon as possible so employees can make their holiday plans around that schedule.