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Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management softwares have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective softwares:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project NameDeadlineTasks to be PerformedContact PersonContact InformationAccess Details
AccountPassword
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

By | Business Improvement, Remote Support Services | No Comments

The remote working revolution has arrived. With technology (like smartphones, cloud collaboration and video conferencing) becoming more widespread, remote working jobs are becoming more common. The idea of being able to work from anywhere you want offers great work-life balance. Some prefer to enjoy the daily grind of office life. Some prefer working from the comfort of their own homes. There are scientific arguments for both. In this article, we will go toe-to-toe and find which one is better for your business.

Working from home has increased in popularity by 115 percent since 2005 with 3.9 million Americans now working at home at least half the time. This growth has been seen due to large businesses hiring remote workers including Amazon, Dell, Cigna, Salesforce, Philips, Nielsen and many others. Not only large but also small businesses are looking for professionals for one-off jobs instead of hiring a full-time employee.

Improved Employee Retention

A Stanford study showed that when call center workers worked remotely, they outperformed their on-site peers. The reason behind it was they took less sick leaves and shorter breaks. They were also found to be more satisfied with the job and tend to quit less often. Moreover, Remote working also helps retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.

Access to Large Pool of Applicants

Businesses can also benefit from remote jobs if they are located in high-cost living area. With remote jobs, they can have access to more skillful people at less pay as compare to hire on-site workers.

Possible Gains in Productivity

Is working from home more productive than working in an office? The productivity of remote working has been a lot in the debates. One such popular cited study is from 2014, where the co-founders of Chinese travel website CTrip let some of their employees to work remotely on daily basis, and compare their productivity to their on-site peers. Keeping other factors same, remote workers made 13.5 percent more calls than their office workers.

Financial Benefits

Your business can save huge money on utilities and real estate. Because if you hire remote workers, you need fewer on-site workers which mean you need a smaller space. When a business moves to a more flexible working scenario, they are more likely to put things in the cloud. This is not only good from an environmental standpoint but also from utilities and extra costs (such as paper, trash, recycling) which seems smaller but certainly adds up. Companies can save millions of dollars in real estate when they hire remote workers instead of on-site workers.

What’s Right for Your Business?

Fortunately, today’s remote working capabilities are more sophisticated than doing conversations over the phone. Being accessible to chat, email, video conferences, cloud collaboration software, and a plethora of other technologies has made it all possible for almost any on-site job to be done remotely. Working remotely is a latest growing trend that you can see with the changing workplaces and more jobs being tied to computers.