It’s hard to believe that summer is already winding down. Kids will be back in school soon and your employees will likely be scaling back their time off requests. Summer is typically the most popular times for employees to take family vacations, so it’s likely you had the opportunity to observe your time off policies and procedures in action over the past few months. Now can be a great time to review that and start making plans for what you might want to change for next year. Here are some simple steps you can take to begin that review process.
Analyze your compensation and benefits strategy
Most companies (91% in the US according to SHRM) offer some paid time off or vacation time to employees. That is pretty much a given at most organizations. But how you structure your vacation policy is an important piece of your overall benefits strategy. Decide what you hope to accomplish and what you hope to communicate to employees through your time off policy.
Keep long term viability in mind
It is important to find a balance of what your company can afford in terms of productivity loss and compensation for employees along with examining what competitor companies are doing to determine if you are more or less competitive from that standpoint. It is much easier to add additional benefits than it is to remove them from employees. Only commit to what you know is sustainable for your organization moving forward.
Plan the structure of your policy
Time off policies are often as unique as the companies they come from. You really do have a lot flexibility in your plan design. Here are some of the important questions to ask yourself:
- How much paid time off will employees receive?
- How many hours per week must an employee work to qualify for paid time off?
- Will employee receive a lump sum, or will it accrue over time?
- What will happen to accrued paid time off when an employee terminates? (check your state laws)
- Will employees have a deadline to use paid time (use it or lose it)? (check your state laws)
- Will hourly employees receive the same amount of vacation as salaried employees?
- Do you need a bona fide leave bank for salaried exempt-level employees?
Plan and communicate your implementation strategy
Almost as important as your plan structure, it is important to plan for the actual implementation of that policy. Develop an employee vacation tracking and planning system to help you plan business needs and employee schedules. You will also want to determine how employee vacations during peak business times or during employee absences. Having a plan in place and clearly communicating that to employees prevents future issues. Some questions to consider include:
- How will employees submit requests for time off?
- Will you do a first come first serve basis when employees request time off, or will seniority be considered?
- Who will determine whether time off will be approved and how will this be communicated to employees?
- Will you have deadline for vacation requests or blackout dates during busy business periods?
- How will you divvy out employees’ duties during employees’ vacation periods?
- Will you offer incentives for employees who work during peak vacation periods?
Once you have a plan, this needs to be communicated clearly to employees, so they understand the benefit and the process by which to use it.
Consider other types of leave
While you are considering your vacation policy, you may also want to take a look at other types of paid and unpaid leave. Other things to consider besides just a vacation policy include:
- Paid holidays
- Bereavement leave
- Jury duty leave
- FMLA (checkout our FMLA toolkit)
- Military Service leave (check applicable laws)
- Sick leave (check applicable state laws)
- Personal paid day on the employee’s birthday
Setting up a vacation policy that will best fits your company culture will help ensure your employees are healthy, happy and feeling they are being fairly compensated. If you aren’t sure what types of leave are important to your employees, ask them. This can help you gain insight to how employees really feel about the policy and make them feel included in the process. If you would like assistance with creating a written time off or other type of policy, contact one of our HR experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.