How was the Jubilee weekend for you?

So that’s it then.  The bedraggled bunting has been taken down, the last few soggy sandwiches have been eaten and we’ve nearly stopped talking about Grace Jones and that hoola hoop.

It certainly was a Diamond Jubilee to remember and a celebration that seemed to sweep the entire nation into a swirl of street parties, pomp and pageantry.  I suspect, however, that for many businesses it wasn’t quite ‘back to normal’ on Wednesday.

Many employees will have already planned out their annual leave requests and asked to take the whole week off; maximising their holiday entitlement and getting an extended break.  Of course it’s also half term – when many working parents are looking to take time off too.

The rush for first dibs on annual leave requests

As any battle-weary manager will tell you, there’s nothing like a conflicting annual leave request to cause tension and bad feeling in the team.  Everyone knows that in reality the whole office can’t be off at the same time – but they all think they are the ones who should be given first dibs.

Working parents are often desperate to get the thumbs-up in order to avoid having to make complicated and costly childcare arrangements.  While those without family responsibilities are generally sympathetic, but don’t really see why they should be pushed to the back of the holiday queue.

So how was it for you?  Did you manage to keep everyone happy while also keeping the wheels turning?  Or is the office a bit like a ghost town this week with lots of empty seats and a few glum-looking souls struggling to keep it all together?

Avoiding nasty surprises

I hate to mention it, but you’re going to have to go through it all again in a few weeks time.  There’s just over a month to go until the start of the Olympics – and the next tranche of quibbles over who gets to take what time off when.

The key to managing annual leave requests successfully, of course, is plenty of forward planning and no nasty surprises.  A carefully thought out holiday absence policy, which sets out a procedure for applying clear guidelines for how many people can be off at any one time, can do much to quell any discontented rumblings. This can be especially useful when planning for annual leave requests over national holidays, such as Christmas or Easter.

If people know that they need to get annual leave requests in early, they can’t really complain when a last-minute application is turned down.  If their manager is transparent about the fact that although he/she will do their best to accommodate requests, customer needs come first, people are much more likely to accept that they may not always be able to take time off exactly when they want to.

It makes sense to be up-front too about how any unauthorised absence will be dealt with. If people know a convenient ‘sickie’ is likely to be viewed in a very dim light they are much less likely to throw one.

Making absence policies accessible

It’s good practice to talk about the company absence policy at the time of induction, so that employees know exactly where they stand from day one.  There’s no harm, however, in issuing the occasional timely reminder in the lead-up to national events or major sporting occasions.

ACAS has some useful guidance to help businesses draw up absence polices – and of course the latest software systems can help you keep track of annual leave requests and get an overview of how holidays are panning out in your team.

I applied some time ago to take some holiday this week to celebrate my own personal (Golden) jubilee.  Some serious partying is planned, but no hoola-hooping is involved and I will be back at my desk ready to write the next blog on Monday morning.

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