5 strategies for tackling any annual leave rush

Summertime is approaching and it’s likely that your HR team is anticipating a rush of annual leave requests. No good employer begrudges hard working employees a bit of time out, but what happens when half of your team suddenly want to be away at the same time?

Fear not! We have proactive strategies for relieving the annual leave burden at popular times.

1. Encourage staff to give you plenty of notice

The more notice you get, the more time you will have to organise cover in time for planned absences. Specify a notice period for the submission of leave requests and then encourage your employees to book even earlier in advance of popular holiday times. This is especially helpful if you operate on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Remind individual team members how much leave they have outstanding. This encourages them to book time off, which helps to spread planned absences across the year.

2. Keep the booking process simple

Feature the topic of annual leave requests in your on-boarding process, document it in your employee handbook and make it easy for employees to check the policy and book their leave. A straight-forward request mechanism will prevent team members from letting their leave entitlement stack-up.

RotaMaster allows staff to send leave requests direct to a manager at the touch of a button.

No paper, form-filling, data entry or complex hoops to jump through!

Other effective tactics geared towards preventing employees from stashing their leave until the last minute include awarding incentives to those taking leave during off-peak periods. Also, setting an annual leave calendar that starts in August in order to relieve the burden at Christmas.

3. Understand your staffing needs

If your organisation has busy periods that must be fully staffed then you are within your rights to embargo dates on which team members will not be allowed a planned absence. Communicate those times to your team so that they can work around the rules.

For the remainder of the time, make sure you understand your critical limits so that you know how many planned absences you can afford to grant your employees without negatively impacting the smooth running of your operation. Just be sure that you clearly communicate any caps and restrictions.

Monitoring annual leave booking patterns will provide grounds on which to grant or decline requests. For example, you can see who was granted leave at a specific time in previous years in order to make a fair decision about who will be granted the same time this year.

4. Prioritise management leave

Require your managers to work together and give plenty of notice when they book their leave. Managerial leave is tough to deal with because it demands greater delegation of responsibility and higher-level cover.

Ensuring that your managers work together to cover and support each-other's absences will guard against any mishaps that would leave a skeleton crew of junior staff running the show.

5. Communicate early, consistently and clearly

In anticipation of an annual leave rush, get communicating with your team.

Clarify any rules around annual leave caps or restrictions, direct them to the booking policy and ask them to provide plenty of notice. This approach gives everyone a fair shot at busy times and prevents anyone from pleading ignorance when their request is declined.

See our article on the SMS messaging functionality in RotaMaster which makes this communication task quick and simple.


If you’d like to learn more about how RotaMaster can help you to manage popular annual leave periods please call 01924 252360 or email enquiries@rotamaster.co.uk.