How To Respectfully Handle Requests For Time Off

May 23, 2014

Here’s some tips for handling requests for time off

As the season for weddings, vacations and time home with the kids begins to heat up so do the vacation requests.  Now’s the time to take a closer look at your shop’s strategy for handling requests for time off.

It starts with trust

The rewards an employer reaps by showing your employees you trust them goes a long way to building a staff of ambassadors. When employees are trusted to take time off reasonably, they invest themselves even more in your business. Your interest in them personally builds that loyalty. Your staff will “go the extra mile” when you acknowledge there’s life outside of work. Unfortunately, some will abuse your trust, but a loss of freedom can change that quickly.

Put it in writing

If you already have a written policy in place, you’re miles ahead. Your employees must know you’re a fair employer and the best way to communicate this is to spell it out. Clearly, an employee training manual that states your policies regarding duties, sales procedures and time off is essential. In Tip #596, WhizBang Training writes, “In your employee training manual, make it clear that schedule requests are just that – requests – not a given.” The bottom line…how will an employee’s absence affect your service to customers?

Create a form

Avoid disappointments because an employee told you last fall they needed time off this July and it wasn’t written down. Get every request in writing. Use a Schedule Request Form. Again, WhizBang Training says, “Consider time off requests on a first-come, first-served basis. So if two people want the same day off, the one who submits their form first gets priority.” No request form…no time off.

Shift trades/self-scheduling

Recently, there’s been a lot of press about the need for setting employee work schedules well in advance. Discussions include paying employees a higher wage when they are asked to work on days they aren’t regularly scheduled. Advanced scheduling is beneficial for everyone. However, there’s something to be said for allowing your employees to trade shifts with one another too. Give them greater control of their scheduling and they’ll know you trust them. Still, there are dangers with this type of scheduling. ShiftPlanning reminds us, “If you are going to allow shift trades you should make it clear that these will all need to be approved by the management first of all, and that swaps can only occur between people doing the same job.”

A well-trained staff

Obviously, only a seasoned staff that understands the nature of your shop and how to sell can accept schedule challenges. Successfully train your employees and you’ll have a group of sales professionals ready to take responsibility and work even harder for you.


For more on time off requests and how to handle them, check out our follow up blog on Negotiating Employee Time Off Requests Fairly.

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