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How MSPs Can Easily and Fairly Manage Vacation Requests

This post was originally featured on Sherweb’s Blog 

Tech workers care as much about benefits like vacation time as they do about wages. Quality of life is the deciding factor for many in-demand skilled workers. Because of this, managed service providers (MSPs) looking to attract and motivate the best talent need to offer a competitive benefits package.  

To make that happen, MSP’s also need effective strategies for managing vacation without compromising their operations. 

It might not be easy, but there are plenty of ways to navigate this increasingly common program. Our partners at PurelyHR have some key insights to share on the topic. 

Balancing work coverage and vacation requests is a challenge 

Striking a balance between approving much-needed vacation requests and covering work gaps has always been challenging, but it’s especially difficult right now. As travel restrictions lift post-pandemic, many businesses are seeing a sudden influx of time-off requests.  

You need a clear and organized process for managing such requests! It’s crucial to approve time off in an orderly and consistent manner. If not, not only do you risk the creation of staffing gaps, but you also might accidentally generate resentment among employees who feel requests weren’t treated fairly.  

Planning and policy are the answers 

When it comes to vacation management, your two primary solutions are developing an organized request process and documenting a clear policy.  

However, it can also help to plan your vacation schedule together as a team, rather than having employees request time off from managers individually. 

If you’re struggling with ad-hoc vacation requests, you might want to consider instituting a rota vacation plan to keep things fair. And don’t forget to take time off yourself! 

Quality of life is vital for everyone, from entry-level employees to business leaders. Time away from the office to reflect and recharge may be just what you need to push your business further forward. 

Let’s cover each of these potential solutions in detail. 

Time-Off-Template

Set a clear vacation policy 

If you don’t already have a documented vacation policy for your MSP, now is the time to create one. Good policies keep everyone on the same page and allow managers to approve or decline vacation requests in a consistent manner. 

Some tech companies boast about their unlimited vacation policies, but if you dig beneath the surface of these claims, there are still usually constraints and limitations in place. The takeaway here is, even if you plan to be flexible with your employee’s time off, it’s still important to document clear expectations. 

Ensure your policy documents your approved requesting process, employee responsibilities, management responsibilities and the criteria for which a request might be denied. For example, if your MSP sees seasonal workload spikes, you might want to include a policy clause capping the number of vacations that will be approved company-wide during that season. 

Also be sure to include sections detailing the consequences for employees and management that do not follow your policies. Establish what performance management process will follow if any employee provides too short notice or takes too much time off work. 

Try team-based vacation schedule planning 

Relying on one manager to coordinate all vacation schedules for an MSP is rarely efficient. It can also lead to accusations of unfairness, if employees suspect the manager is playing favorites when they see one request approved without comment and another denied. 

Instead, consider making vacation scheduling a whole team effort. Yes, this makes it a messier process, but putting it out in the open makes it a collaborative one, too. No single manager is making private decisions that can be misconstrued as playing favorites. It also gets the message across that your company values everyone’s vacation time equally and expects equitable work distribution. 

When in doubt, consider using a rota 

A rota means a rotating schedule. You can use one for vacation requests as easily as you could for duty assignments.  

A rota is an excellent choice if you want to take the scheduling and requesting process off the shoulders of a single manager, but don’t want to allow vacation scheduling to be a complete free-for-all as it might in another team-based format. 

You can use a set rota vacation schedule or use a rota to prioritize staff picks. For example, when scheduling vacations for the next quarter or year, each employee puts in their requests in turn. Then, in the following period, change the order. For instance, you could reverse it, move the first five employees to the end, or randomize it. Seek input from your employees about how to change it, but the goal is to give everyone equal opportunities to get their first-choice picks over time. 

And always take a vacation yourself 

Let’s face it, MSP owners are workaholics. But vacation is a time to rest, recharge and reflect on their work and life. Business leaders often won’t even recognize how drained they are until they step away from the office for a few days.  

Getting away from familiar routines brings that into focus. Spending time with friends and family, or even just on a long-neglected hobby, will give your brain the break it needs to get back to 100%. 

Another reason for business leaders to take a vacation is to get a fresh perspective. So often, executives and MSP owners work so hard they never get a chance to take that 30,000-foot view of their company and strategy. Leading by example and taking vacation time for yourself allows you to think about your business in a new way. 

Use HR management software to make your life easier 

Using spreadsheets and calendars to track vacations may work well for a while, but vacation management gets increasingly complex as your company grows.  

Consider whether HR software can take the busy work out of managing your team’s vacation time and other human resources needs. Vacation scheduling is just one option Sherweb offers in its PurelyHR suite. 

Want to see how PurelyHR can make your life easier? Try it for free today. 

PurelyHR

PurelyHR is a trusted suite of HR modules that will change the way small and medium-sized businesses manage their workforce.