HR Expert: Annual Leave & Productivity

HR Expert: Annual Leave & Productivity

Q- My client is planning to take a period of annual leave and is concerned productivity will drop off as a result, what can they do to address this?

A- As we enter what is commonly known to be the peak season for summer vacations, it is likely that many clients will choose this time to take a prolonged break from work. With this in mind, there are a number of simple steps clients can take to ensure productivity levels remain high during their absence. 

Those who plan sufficiently will have a better chance of maintaining regular service levels whilst they are away from the workplace. Therefore, clients are advised to hold meetings with staff ahead of time to outline what is expected of them. This will also provide affected employees with an opportunity to raise any queries or concerns they may have before clients depart for their annual leave. Certain employees may also benefit from being provided with a designated “to-do” list to help them stay on task whilst your client is away, with special attention given to any work that has a particular deadline or is considered to be of high priority.

Depending on the structure of their business, clients may already have a chain of command in place to determine who is responsible for overseeing workplace activities during their absence. If such contingency plans have not already been made, clients should designate an individual, or a group of individuals, to be in charge or certain functions whilst they are away. Typically, this will be assistant managers or other responsible individuals who your client feels will be able to command the respect of the workforce in their stead.

Unfortunately, it is possible for standards surrounding things such as timekeeping to drop off when senior figures are missing from the office. To address these concerns, clients should consider introducing electronic clocking in systems and surveillance cameras to monitor when staff arrives at work, acting as a sufficient deterrent for those who may consider purposely arriving late to work or leaving early. However, where CCTV cameras are involved it is important to ensure employee contracts are structured in a way that allows them to be filmed in this manner.

Although annual leave offers an important opportunity to switch off from work for their own health and wellbeing, clients may choose to provide certain individuals with the means of contacting them in an emergency should their input be required. This way clients will have the opportunity to resolve any issues that may occur and ensure productivity levels remain high, however, it should be made clear to employees that this should be a last resort and only used under certain circumstances.

Although clients may feel uncomfortable with the thought of taking an extended break from work, well-run organisations should be capable of operating smoothly in their absence so long as the appropriate provisions have been put in place. Overall those who plan sufficiently and entrust key roles to the correct individuals should be able to enjoy their summer holidays safe in the knowledge that productivity levels will remain high until they return.