By James Kissell, Strategy Director, ANZ, WFS Australia
Managing employees’ leave requests can be time consuming and labour intensive, so it often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Yet managers can make the task easier and balance employee needs with business requirements.
James Kissell, from WFS: A Workforce Software Company, said, “Employees apply for leave of all kinds: illness, family, annual, or maternity. These requests can come in at any time, leaving managers scrambling to keep the business running smoothly while trying to fill labour gaps left by those taking time off. It can be a tough balancing act.
“There are a number of solutions to make this easier, including automated leave management systems, and some simple processes and steps to ease the leave burden.”
There are five key leave management tips line managers should remember to help them balance employee needs with business needs:
1. Look for tell-tale trends
Sometimes excessive leave needs to be investigated. It’s important to look out for trends in the regular patterns of a company’s leave requests and approvals activity to determine whether this is the case. However, it is essential to show compassion and understanding when there is a legitimate issue. That’s why it’s so important to have an automated tracker in place to identify genuine problems, rather than letting managers make decisions at their sole discretion.
2. Know the laws and policies
Some workers are entitled to extended leave periods in some circumstances, especially government employees. So it is vital to train and educate managers to be across the respective allowances, so they know how to respond respectfully to employee leave requests.
3. Be realistic about return times
One of the biggest points of tension between a staff member and a manager can be around return-to-work schedules following illness or injury. Managers should have some awareness of medical leave guidelines, or at least use systems like workforce management automation software, to identify the recommended return timeline for a given medical condition or incident. The more managers know in advance about what to expect, the better a team can prepare and make necessary adjustments.
4. Plan in advance for holidays
It might seem simple, but advance planning is often overlooked by managers. Colleagues won’t always have to cover for staff on leave but sometimes that coverage is essential. So it makes sense for managers track leave dates and prepare in advance to ensure productivity is not compromised, even during popular holiday times. Advanced workforce management systems now include holiday-bidding, giving managers a holistic view of who is taking leave and where gaps need to be filled. It provides the added incentive to workers to plan and book vacation time in advance.
5. Respond to requests quickly
Don’t wait to respond to leave requests. One of the best ways managers can streamline leave management processes is simply to respond immediately when an employee requests time off. They can do this with leave management software that puts all of the necessary information immediately at their fingertips, so they can approve or deny requests quickly with confidence.