The weather's perfect and the kids are out of school for the season - it's the prime time for your employees to check out. Even though summer Fridays are in effect at many companies, workers can't resist turning their quick beachside getaways into four-day weekends, or taking entire weeks off at once to get in some much-needed family bonding or time for a self reset. This is all well and good, but on the flip side employers are scrambling to make up for lost productivity.

Don't get us wrong; work-life balance is crucial in keeping employees happy and engaged. You should never discourage your staff from taking time off over the summer to unwind and get some vitamin D. However, there's a right way to maintain the influx of PTO requests that seem inevitable once the temperature rises above 80. Here are some of our top tips to keep your teams afloat during the wave of summer PTO:

Beach chairs in sand - summer PTO concept

Ask for PTO requests, ASAP

To be an effective team leader and manager, it's important to have a strong sense of organization. This is especially true for managers dealing with the revolving door of summer PTO. To stay on top of their teams' absence rates, managers should ask their staff to put in PTO requests as soon as possible.

Maybe Linda from accounting knows she's going to be away for the entire week before Labor Day. If she puts in her PTO request a month in advance, it gives her manager plenty of time to figure out how to delegate her tasks during her absence.

If an employee who plays a niche role in your business is taking summer PTO, their manager might have trouble finding someone with the skills qualified to take on their duties. In this case, knowing about their time off far enough in advance can help the situation in one of two ways:

•    Having the staff member complete all necessary tasks before going on vacation.
•    Arranging a training session for the employee to debrief another staff member on a crucial component of the role that might come up during their PTO.

Make waves with updated information

Gone are the days of manually writing in for PTO. Nowadays, most businesses allow their employees to request PTO and sick days through an online human capital management system.
Others that don't have this technology setup rely on managers and HR teams to keep track of staff PTO. Here's how it goes: An employee will email their PTO days to their manager and CC HR, managers will mark this information in their calendars, and HR will track this PTO in their system. Sounds simple, right? Well, what happens when a manager accidentally overlooks an emailed PTO request from a staff member?

Businesses that are still working off the latter model should revamp their HR management strategy to keep important information from falling through the cracks. A high-quality HCM platform allows workers to submit their PTO and have it approved by their managers in minutes. What's more, employees can make adjustments to their PTO request at any time, whether they decided to extend their trip an extra day or cut it short. Worst case scenario, if there are any gaps in the schedule, they can be seen through the HCM platform on a day-by-day basis so managers can easily react. With access to this updated information in real time, HR and managers can stay in the loop regarding staff PTO and make schedule adjustments at the drop of a (sun) hat.

Unlimited PTO policy? No problem!

Plenty of executives thought unlimited PTO policies would be a craze that would die out after a few years. According to the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, only 3% of companies offer unlimited PTO. Even though unlimited PTO policies aren't overly common, a handful of businesses that have implemented these policies have seen some positive results. It's a draw for prospective employees who are dazzled by the idea of being able to take vacations whenever, wherever. Plus, when employees put in their notice, it saves companies from having to pay them out for any PTO they didn't use.

Even though these employers are giving their staff the chance to not be picky and choosy if they want to take a mental health day, they need to enforce a system to make sure unlimited PTO doesn't translate to limited productivity. Companies that have an unlimited PTO policy must keep track of staff time off for planning purposes. Like any other organization, one with an unlimited PTO policy can fall behind or miss out on opportunities when they don't plan ahead for summer absences. An email and calendar invite aren't enough. Businesses with unlimited PTO should use HCM platforms to stay on track of who will and won't be in the office at any given time, even though the terms are more flexible. Trust us, we can speak from experience on this one since Kronos runs on an unlimited PTO model.

In the summer months, when your staff members are more interested in sitting on a hammock than their office swivel chair, it's crucial to be responsive to employee PTO requests. With a human capital management system in place, your managers and HR team will be equipped to deal with summer PTO in real time, keeping business running as usual while allowing staff to get some much-needed R&R.

Published: Tuesday, 7 July 2020