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Summer Vacation Challenges to Workforce Management: Be Prepared


Summer is here and with it comes the holiday season eagerly awaited by employees, whether to catch up on personal life or to relax and spend time with family or friends. But it poses big challenges to workforce management. Leave requests can overlap with each other or with periods of sustained or high demand for services and may bear demanding planning and strategy in keeping business operations seamless. The following blog post will help give some practical strategies for effective workforce management during summer holidays to keep businesses prepared and employees satisfied.



Image generated by Pixlr

Image generated by Pixlr


Summer Holidays and Their Effects on Workforce Management


Summer months normally come loaded with high numbers of demand for leave, as many workers take advantage of good weather and school holidays to spend time off with family. According to a SHRM survey, 68 percent of employees take at least one week of vacation during the summer. If not properly managed, this may seriously undermine productivity and customer service. With a sizable number of employees likely to be away, it can become difficult for any business to strike a balance between allowing its employees to go on holidays and ensuring enough people are available to meet the operational requirements and targets.


The challenge, in other words, is to meet the expectations of the employees about their time off versus what the company requires in terms of labor during holiday periods. If there is not enough planning, it can result in insufficient manning which will affect productivity, slow down response times, and degrade customer service, thus leading to a reduction in customer satisfaction and potential losses. On the other hand, turning down the vacation requests can lead to dissatisfaction, low morale, higher rotation, and possible burnout among employees. Hence, knowing and managing summer vacation impact on workforce management is of prime importance so as to avoid an uncomfortable and relatively inefficient work atmosphere.


Early Planning and Communication


Effective planning and communication are viewed as two of the best ways that businesses can deal with the summer holiday season. Planning schedules well in advance can give the business enough time to handle possible gaps in staffing and can help in managing employee expectations.


First of all, identify the major time slots during the summer when vacation requests are likely to surge. These may be times around public holidays, school vacations, or some other company-mandated shutdown periods. Having recognized these peak times, notify the employees in advance about the holiday schedule and request them to plan their vacations way ahead of time.


This can considerably be helped out through scheduling tools and softwares. Workofo's workforce management platform helps manage vacation requests, shift planning, and real-time communication with employees. This shall ensure that everyone is on the same page and can minimize the chances of last-minute surprises and conflicts.


For example, in one study by Software Advice a few years ago, 45% of managers responded that using scheduling software improved communication, while 40% reported better overall employee satisfaction.


Fair and Transparent Scheduling Practices


Following fair and transparent scheduling practices is very crucial to maintaining employees' trust and satisfaction. There are several ways a business can fairly distribute holiday shifts among its many employees; all these ways have their own merits and demerits.


One of the more common methods is a random draw. While this can be a fair way to distribute shifts, it may not be very predictable as you cannot anticipate which employee or employees will be selected at random and therefore which teams, departments, functions will require more coverage. Another method is first-come, first-served, where those employees who turn in vacation requests first are granted first preference. While this system may reward quickness, it has its own inequity in that some people might not be able to react quickly at the opening of the scheduling window for a variety of reasons—maybe they were already on vacation—or they need time to coordinate with their family members.


Whichever way it goes, transparency is the key. Share clearly with all employees how scheduling works and what the criteria are, and make the decisions fairly. The transparency will help to prevent conflicts and dissatisfaction, and create another cooperative workplace.


Balancing Employee Needs with Business Requirements


Balance between the needs of the employee and the operational needs has to be worked out by any business looking to succeed during the summer holidays. Flexible working arrangements—flexible hours, flexible shift patterns, working in different locations, or job sharing so that employees go away but business needs are still met—are some of these techniques.


Making sure that the employees working during holiday periods also get a good deal regarding pay is another important consideration. This could include premium pay rates for holiday work, additional time off at a later date, or other forms of recognition and reward. According to Harvard Business Review, flexibility at work adds a 55% increase in productivity and reduces turnover by 50%. Showing appreciation for employees' hard work and dedication enables companies to sustain their morale and motivation.


It is also necessary that work should be such that it is equally distributed between the employees and no employee has to bear excess workload. The regular check with the staff can act to recognize the symptoms of burnout and details timely interventions. The temporary hiring or part-time workers also can help additional load during the peak periods without putting extra pressure on the permanent staff.


Conclusion


Careful planning and communication, together with a sense of fairness in the arrival of schedules, are critical for the successful management of workforce challenges during the summer holiday season. A proper understanding of the effects of vacation demands, early planning of schedules, and fair scheduling practices can strike a balance between the needs of employees and the needs of the business to ensure a smooth and productive holiday season.


It's a very challenging time to manage, but good preparation and clear communication can make it easier. Encourage your people to submit their vacation requests well in advance; be transparent with regards to the way holidays are scheduled, and have holiday workers fairly compensated. By handling this time of year using these techniques, businesses can maintain productivity levels high and their employees satisfied all summer long.


Therefore, it is important to have a suitable multipurpose tool, like Workofo, that can accurately predict the expected load and, based on this, adjust the schedule in the most optimal way, taking into account employees' vacations and other wishes, as well as business rules, restrictions and parameters (internal rules, agreements, Labour Code requirements, employee competencies, work speeds, etc.). Built to meet the unique challenges of your business, our comprehensive AI-powered workforce management solution provides yearlong harmony and efficiency in the workplace.


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