I’m doing some work for a small company and there’s a vacation issue — a guy wants to go on vacation and has scheduled the time off in the company calendar. He went and told his supervisor (who is technically on paper his supervisor but that’s as far as the relationship goes) yesterday and he’s going to take a week off right after Labor Day – a scant 6 business days away from today.
Well, this didn’t sit well with his supervisor or the business owner. As a small business, with 12 regular full-time employees, it means four employees or one third of the staff will be out the week after Labor Day – yikes.
The company does have an employee handbook that states what the vacation policy is. So, what went wrong?
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
What went wrong was a vacation policy that although stated, is vague. It doesn’t require a form be filled out (a must simply for HR tracking purposes), let alone signed off on for vacation. This has left the company in the current situation where one third of the staff will be out the week after Labor Day.
The company owner prides himself on this relaxed environment but is feeling taken advantage of by his employees (and this owner is quite generous).
The issue is bigger than a vacation form. It comes down to the structure of the organization and who reports to whom. We’ll fix that in the long run but for now, rather than deny people’s vacation, here’s how we’re going to deal with it.
1. Take about the issue openly. At our next weekly company meeting, we’re going to make everyone aware of the situation.
2. We’re rewriting the vacation policy for the employee handbook to be more specific. It will include a new policy stating that requests for vacation must be submitted at least 30 days before the vacation date (small companies need time to plan), a copy of the vacation request form, the fact that vacation must be approved by the company owner and so on.
3. We will ensure that we are prepared to deal with the small staff the week after Labor Day. That way, we have next week to work extra hard to get ahead of the curve. It may mean that people work overtime the week everyone is on vacation, costing the company more money. But lesson learned, that will not happen again with the new policy in place.
Ultimately, the situation is about structure and accountability. While we’re not trying to change the relaxed culture the owner has created, we’re just tightening it up a bit so we can hold employees accountable (something that hasn’t been done in the past).
How are you tweaking your organization to tighten it up as it relates to HR issues? And what HR issues are you facing? Drop a line and we’ll try to figure it out.