“Annual leave” is a word which means a break time from every-day professional obligations for many employees. This means resting, no e-mails and phone calls from work, time spent with the family or friends. Annual leave is the employee’s privilege, but at the same time, more often than not, it becomes the employer’s nightmare. During the holiday season, they have to manage the absence of subordinates and, at the same, time keep organising the company’s work so that it can operate without generating losses. How to manage the employee’s absence and what to do so that the word “annual leave” does not make us shivers?
Vacation, winter holidays, long weekends, leave on request…
The issue of leaves looks quite differently from the viewpoint of the employee and the employer. Truth be told, the interests of both parties are inconsistent. The employee will seek to use the free days to the maximum, which combined with holidays and weekends may result in absence from work even for a dozen or so days. The employer sees everything from the perspective of financial result and work continuity which is necessary for correct function of business.
Most often, the problem occurs during vacation, winter holidays, holidays which can transform every-day work into a series of long weekends. This problems concerns all enterprises, regardless of their size. However, it seems that the micro and small enterprises are in the worst situation: they repeatedly cannot afford additional investments, e.g. employment of temporary employees. The budgets of those organisations just do not take into account such type of situations.
The situation looks differently in the case of leave on request, to which every employee is entitled. Those 4 free days which are part of the entitled leave, the employee may use even on the very day on which they are absent from work. If the employee uses the one-day absence caused by random factors, e.g. the child’s illness, then the company’s function is not threatened; however, should the employee uses up all 4 days following one another, it may turn out that e.g. one of the projects is threatened, meaning it would be necessary to look for someone who will temporarily take over the obligations.
The employees’ annual leave is not the end of the world
An appropriate management strategy and previously undertaken activities allow us to avoid the situation in which the company will end up without employees and the clients will not receive the goods, answer to an e-mail or will not be able to meet with a salesperson. For the word “annual leave” not to give us shivers on the back, all it takes is to abide by certain rules and, if it is necessary, use external help, e.g. temporary employees.
Leave plan – also called the leave calendar, it is a chart drafted in the company at the beginning of a year which includes the employees’ leave periods written out for the entire calendar year. It is not practiced in every organisation which is not good because thanks to it we can check and foresee when an absence in our company will be the largest and appropriately prepare for such state of matters. It is also a tool the employees can use as they see when their colleagues are absent, thanks to which they can plan their own free days in such a way that it does not collide with the company’s operation. Obviously, the employees who declare their free days from work first are in the best situation because they will have full freedom to determine their leave terms. Obviously, the final decision is made by the employer anyway.
Delegation of tasks – this is one of the most important tools of every manager and employer, its skilful usage allows to delegate duties between employees, which facilitates the continuity of work, even if one of few of their colleges will be absent from work. The main advantage of delegating obligations is avoidance of experiments, meaning handing over tasks to people without appropriate competences and skills. In addition, the employees shouldn’t be showered with too many tasks because not only will they not carry out the ordered work well, but they will also neglect their duties. Delegating may be a really great remedy for absence of employees. However, the tasks need to be scheduled skilfully. Delegating should include cyclic activities or such which are connected with large projects and have to be conducted even during the absence of people who coordinate them.
Diversification – a term that boils down to the diversification of production assortment or provided services, thanks to which we operate on many channels and when employees of one of the channels cannot work, the other channels keep the entire business. Thanks to such activity we reduce the probability of loss, but we may also reduce the probability of the highest profit. An example might be an advertisement agency the main direction of action of which is the production of video content, but it also provides services in the scope of online print as well as marketing trainings. During the annual leave period, even the suspension of operation of two channels may not have negative impact on running the business, because the third channel will keep functioning. Obviously everything here is largely simplified. It is important for the diversification to be varied enough for the second and consecutive branches of activity to be able to provide efficient operation of the enterprise.
Temporary employees – this is a solution which requires from us some financial expenditure. Unfortunately not all organisations can afford such additional expenditure. The temporary-work agencies are very popular in production sectors and in places where excessive qualifications are not required. If our production requires continuity, sometimes it may seem a very good solution. It is also worth noting that an employment contract with a temporary employee may be terminated even within three days.
Task outsourcing – sometimes it may turn that what will be better than employment of temporary employees will be the outsourcing of tasks or the entire process. In reality, it is possible to outsource anything to the outside of the company. Starting with customer service and ending with packing parcels. Using this option gives us some sort of sense of safety because it is the company dealing with outsourcing that is responsible for keeping the continuity of ordered tasks, often under pressure of penalties prescribed in the contract. In addition, it may turn out that, ultimately, this type of solution is more economical than employment of employees in a given department.
Freelancers and trainees – both can save our company from the slowdown of work. During the holiday and leave periods, a lot of inquiries about practices and internships necessary to complete the year for many graduates come up at universities and on the Internet. It is worth thinking about them as about people who can support our company in operation. Many of them will easily cope at various work stations and also in contact with the client. All it takes is to give them a chance. It is also worth remembering that it is good to pay for the work done during internship, especially if the trainees really do their best. Freelancers may often be the last resort when all goes wrong. The graphic designer goes on leave, their substitute breaks their leg and the computers in the company are flooded with water. Finding an appropriate person to close the order in this situation seems to be the best solution. Where to look for the magicians for such work? Groups on Facebook as well as webpages with orders is a good idea: this is where one can find some really well qualified persons.
And what if the situation is seriously bad?
However, sometimes it might happen that both employer and employee fail to foresee all situations which can occur. We are talking about disasters, malfunctions or calamities, but also about unexpected inspections and meetings which require the presence of the employer. If it turns out that no other subordinate is able to replace the employee on their leave, the employer is entitled to withdraw such person from their “vacation”. The employer must hand over such information to the employee as well as take into consideration the whereabouts of the subordinate, the possibility of return, etc. The employee should treat this as an official instruction. This means that they are obliged to fulfil it regardless of their own assessment of the situation. In addition, the employer bears all financial consequences of such withdrawal, e.g. flight cost.
As you can see, the employer always has a few options and possibilities which may provide them with the sense of business safety in a situation when work force is lacking. Each and every solution has its advantages and disadvantages and even the earlier and properly prepared schedule of leaves may not be useful enough when we encounter sudden and random events on our path.