Managing Time Off

September 5, 2013

It’s now September and autumn is upon us! Most of us will have had summer vacations and should be refreshed ready for (in most organisations) the busiest time of the year! In learning and development we see a summer lull as clients avoid learning interventions due to staff shortages. This turns into a learning frenzy between now and the end of November.

For all businesses and organisations autumn should be a time of harvest, the chance to see the start of a return on investment (ROI) for new initiatives introduced for 2013. This applies to both calendar year and financial year ends. Pressure will be on all leaders and managers to deliver their objectives and tough decisions may need to be made.

Whether it is “healthy” or not, the summer holiday is often a time when managers get the chance to really think about work strategy, without the constant ‘noise’ of the day job! As a result of this they return ready to face up to the underachievers and realign their more effective resources.

Unfortunately many of their good intentions go up in smoke the moment they are back in the UK and fire up their Blackberry to see 1,000+ emails! They immediately fall back into fire fighting and their planned changes are forgotten due to lack of time.

To avoid the above more and more managers are avoiding holidays all together! Research has shown that by this time of the year some 40% of managers won’t have had a full week of work at all! This is not the solution and just can’t be healthy. It can also lead to burn out and long term sickness.

The management of the staff holiday rota and associated resource planning are a key management skill, as is organising your own holiday time. Here are some Top Tips to avoid ‘Holiday Hangover’ and (in the case of the summer holiday period) set up an ‘Awesome Autumn’

  • Book your own holiday during peak holiday times FOR your industry – this sounds obvious but people don’t do it.
  • Get at least HALF your holiday dates set & in the diary early. If you delay you won’t have the resources to cover & you have no choice but to take holiday during busy work periods, or miss out on holiday altogether.
  • Encourage your supervisors to do the same as you do (two points above).

All industries have patterns of business activity and therefore you CAN prepare for them:

  • Set ‘red areas’ on the holiday calendar during known ‘all hands on deck’ periods
  • Explain the ‘red areas’ to all staff and importantly during the recruitment process
  • It is also good practice to set green and amber areas on the calendar too
  • If your work is project based and there is an unexpected delay during a red period then encourage last minute holiday requests
  • Time off is a key motivator, despite the fact that it is also an entitlement. Use this motivation in a constructive but not a manipulative way

These ideas are simple and common sense but as I always say, common sense is rarely common practice. Now when’s my next holiday?

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

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