Opinion

Encourage employees to take vacation

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Print this page Genevieve Roberts

With many companies experiencing reduced sales and slower workloads, this may be a good time to let your employees take time off.  Vacation or paid time off is typically an earned benefit, but it is amazing how many folks do not end up taking all their vacation time by the end of the year. Many companies now do not allow unused time to be rolled over into future years.  We suggest you encourage your employees to take all their vacation time as it can help them be even more productive.  They come back more relaxed and re-energized. 

Furthermore, a majority of employees seek even greater flexibility with their schedules than any other benefit. In fact, 38 percent of workers say that the summer benefit they would most like to have is a flexible schedule, making it the most coveted benefit, according to a survey by the staffing firm OfficeTeam.  After flexible schedules, leaving early Friday (32 percent of respondents) was the second most coveted summer benefit. Company activities (6 percent) such as picnics and relaxed dress codes (5 percent) were less coveted.

If you are considering offering flexible scheduling for your work force, there are several factors to consider.  First, can you offer the option to all employees or because of the job requirements it may only be feasible to do with certain departments or roles.  The implication could cause tension between employee groups.  Second, will your customers be impacted?  Will service levels be negatively affected because employees are not there during core hours?  How much leeway or creative scheduling can you allow?  It really depends on the nature of the work, the job requirements and the impact to the organization. 

The more you can offer to meet the needs of the employee the greater the impact to that individual particularly in terms of loyalty and long term commitment to the organization.  You do not necessarily need to apply one size fits all standard in many cases.  Third, be careful to treat employees in similar roles similarly so you do not risk the danger of unintentionally discriminating against an employee.  Think fair and consistent application of each person’s request for time off or scheduling needs.

The benefits of offering your work force flexible schedules is proven and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has specific tips on how to do it successfully.  They produced a guide with the Families and Work Institute on bold new ideas for “making work work.”  You can request a copy at info@familiesandwork.org.  An example is at Accenture where they have created Future Leave, a self-funded sabbatical that employees can request and plan for ahead of time.  They bank part of their income in the months preceding the leave and draw on those saved earnings while on leave.  The institute’s research has shown that employees working in effective and flexible workplaces are more likely to be engaged with their jobs, more likely to stay with their employer and more likely to be in better mental health.  Flexibility continues to be a strategic business tool to improve your work force to day and in the future.  However, even if companies aren’t able to implement flexible schedules, allowing employees to occasionally leave early on Fridays can have a positive effect on morale as they can get a head start on their vacations.

Genevieve Roberts is managing principal of Richmond-based Titan Group LLC and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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