How employers should handle the influx of vacation requests

Staff desperately want a break, and given latest financial traits, employers should be very cautious in how they handle time-off requests in the coming months.

The summer season of 2021 is prone to see an enormous spike in PTO requests consequently of a quantity of concurrent traits stemming from the pandemic. In the previous yr workers requested much less day without work, labored longer hours, and reported larger charges of stress and burnout. Now they need a breather.

In accordance with a study performed by the Society for Human Useful resource Administration (SHRM), 41% of employed People really feel burned out from their work, and 48% really feel mentally and bodily exhausted at the finish of the workday. One other study performed by Robert Half discovered {that a} quarter of staff forfeited paid day without work in 2020, and a 3rd intend to take three weeks or extra of vacation time in 2021.


At the identical time, nonetheless, now could be a very difficult interval for employers to search out themselves shorthanded. As the financial system regularly reopens, organizations wish to the second half of 2021 to make up for misplaced time and misplaced income. To make issues much more tough, in line with a study performed by Microsoft, 40% of staff are contemplating leaving their employer this yr; organizations that ignore their workers’ wants might discover themselves even additional understaffed consequently.

“For those who inform folks ‘I can’t afford for any of you to depart,’ you run the danger of all of them leaving, as a result of they burn out,” says Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of SHRM.

In accordance with one other SHRM study, nonetheless, 74% of employers haven’t made any adjustments to their PTO insurance policies in response to COVID-19. Of those that did, 34% are permitting employees to hold their vacation time over to subsequent yr and 16% are paying employees to void some of their vacation days.

“[During the pandemic] we have been listening to about layoffs and furloughs, folks have been fearful of asking for day without work, as a result of the unemployment fee topped 15%, so folks have been like, ‘This isn’t the time to request PTO,’” Taylor says. “We noticed workers not taking it, employers naively believing since you have been working from house you wouldn’t want a vacation, and that created an ideal storm.”

Right here’s how managers and employers can finest handle the wave of PTO requests that’s possible heading their approach.

Seasonal staffing challenges are right here already

Taylor says that this era of staffing shortages and paid day without work will not be not like the vacation season, throughout which many industries wrestle to stability a rise in holiday-related PTO requests and a rise in holiday-related demand.


“We all know the best way to labor plan throughout the vacation surges,” he says. “Retailers know they want extra workers at a time when rather a lot of folks don’t wish to work, which is the vacation season, so what do we have to put in place to fill these positions and ensure the enterprise retains working? It’s the identical idea. . . . You have to sit down and be methodical, and strategy it such as you would another half of your corporation.”

Use momentary employees to assist fill in the gaps

Simply as retailers make the most of staffing companies to rent momentary workers round the vacation season, employers should contemplate exploring comparable momentary staffing options for managing worker PTO requests in the coming months.

“The gig financial system might growth much more over the subsequent 6 to 12 months, as a result of it’s a approach to offset folks taking vacation at a decrease value than hiring full-time workers,” says Dan Schawbel, managing associate of Office Intelligence. “The massive profit is it permits you to scale shortly with out an excessive amount of value in an effort to meet enterprise wants.”

Nonetheless, Schawbel warns towards leaning too closely on summer season interns to switch vacationing employees members. “You possibly can’t simply throw an intern into each place in the group to let folks take a vacation,” he says. “I believe in some methods you’ll be higher off to offset utilizing a gig employee with extra expertise who can extra readily and shortly take over a job briefly or add assist with out a lot coaching.”

Automate as a lot as potential

This era of staffing instability may be a very good time for organizations to think about a digital transformation effort. Automating sure inner processes could make it simpler for workers to depart with out inflicting as a lot of a disruption, and to stand up to hurry upon their return.

“The suitable reply will not be asking folks to work extra, or take much less day without work, it’s making it simpler for them to do extra in a shorter quantity of time,” argues Zoe Clelland, vp of product and expertise at Nintex, a workflow automation answer.

Clelland explains that automation instruments can be utilized to cowl less-difficult duties and direct requests and knowledge round the absent employees member for harder ones. Much like the approach an automatic out-of-office e mail reply sometimes gives the contact data of one other staff member who’s protecting for his or her absent colleague, automation instruments can ahead requests and workflow processes to the proper folks.

“That tooling permits you to delegate, which implies as an alternative of it pinging you and asking you [while you’re on vacation], it is aware of who to go to, and if it doesn’t get a solution, it is aware of to ask your supervisor, so there is no such thing as a loss of data or communication there,” she says.

Clelland provides that such instruments also can assist these getting back from depart stand up to hurry extra shortly. “After I come again, I wish to know what acquired accredited; I wish to know what acquired rejected; I wish to know who did it; what occurred, with out having to speak to twenty completely different folks,” she says. “The very best half of coming again into an automatic office after PTO is that there’s documentation of every thing that occurred.”

Provide incentives strategically 

In accordance with the SHRM research, employers who’re making adjustments to their PTO insurance policies in response to an anticipated enhance in demand are providing a quantity of incentives to maintain employees from taking day without work . Taylor warns, nonetheless, that in the event that they’re not cautious, some incentive packages—similar to shopping for again vacation days or letting employees carry them over to the subsequent yr—might result in even larger charges of burnout.

“I would like to provide some warning there: Firm leaders and HR professionals know there’s a price to a workforce that doesn’t take an actual vacation in additional than a yr,” he says. “Watch out together with your plans. For those who inform folks ‘I’ll pay you,’ and somebody wants the cash and works by way of, you’ll see productiveness and morale diminished, as a result of the particular person burns out.”


As an alternative of creating incentive packages that discourage employees from taking any day without work, Taylor says employers should work with their employees to craft coverage adjustments that enable for some vacation time in the instant future.

“It’s actually vital to make clear with workers how a lot time upfront that you must put in a request, what’s the most quantity of consecutive days, what number of in a staff could be off directly, these kinds of tips,” he says. “That approach they perceive this isn’t finished to maintain you from taking a vacation—we perceive the want so that you can have that—however we additionally have to run a enterprise.”

Taylor explains that such tips, together with insurance policies for purchasing again or rolling over leftover vacation days, will encourage employees to restrict their vacation plans to the most quantity of day without work that’s needed, relatively than the most quantity of day without work that’s obtainable.