Managing Employee Holiday and Workload: Tips for HR managers

Two happy employees working together at a desk, smiling and talking.

Annual leave and employee satisfaction levels go together hand in hand. Time off is essential for employees as it allows them to recharge and prevent burnout, spend quality moments with loved ones, and return to work with renewed energy. 

As an HR manager, you play a crucial role in ensuring that employee annual leave is managed efficiently, allowing your workforce to enjoy their time off stress-free.

Effective employee holiday management is not just about granting time off; it is a delicate balance between meeting employee needs and maintaining productivity within the organisation. Striking this balance requires thoughtful planning, clear policies, and proactive workload management.

Building a Holiday Policy

Developing a well-defined holiday policy is the foundation of effective holiday management. The policy should include guidelines on how holiday requests are made, the maximum number of employees allowed on leave simultaneously and any blackout periods during critical business events. 

It is also essential to be flexible when designing the policy. All employees will have different needs and preferences when it comes to annual leave. You could consider implementing a mix of fixed and flexible holidays to cater to a variation of employee requirements.

Flexibility with holidays can improve employee satisfaction and work-life balance, resulting in higher morale and workplace productivity. 

Clear and Transparent Holiday Guidelines

Transparency is key to successful holiday management. Clearly communicate the holiday guidelines to all employees, making sure they are aware of any provisions and limitations.

Create a centralised platform where employees can access information regarding holiday entitlements, any carry-over leave (if this is applicable to your business) and the holiday request process. 

You should encourage open communication within the workplace regarding holiday planning. Employees need to feel comfortable discussing their holiday preferences and potential scheduling conflicts with their supervisors or the HR department. 

By fostering open dialogue, you can proactively address any issues and find suitable solutions that align with business needs and employee preferences. 

Setting a Criteria for Approving Holiday Requests

Establishing a fair and consistent approach to approving holiday requests is a priority in order to avoid any biases or favouritism. Consider implementing a first-come, first-served basis – provided that it does not disrupt essential business operations or interfere with any blackout period. 

Alternatively, you could adopt a rotation system to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities to take time off during peak holiday seasons. 

For illustrative purposes, in Year 1, employees A and B may avail annual leave on Christmas Day, while employees C and D are granted time off on New Year’s Day. In year 2, the opportunities are reversed. You could also allow these employees to switch their assigned days amongst each other – with supervisor approval. 

During periods of high demand, prioritise holiday based on genuine reasons and individual circumstances. A clear process for evaluating and improving requests will result in a positive work environment, where employees feel valued and treated fairly. 

Communicating the Holiday Policy

In every workplace, communication is always the most important factor. Employees need to be in the know, any requirements, changes or additional information must be made apparent to them.

HR managers should communicate the holiday policy and guidelines through multiple channels, such as emails, company intranet and team meetings. Regular reminders about holiday planning and the importance of considering workload will keep your workforce informed and engaged

Try and avoid any changes to the guidelines mid calendar year, as this could result in upset and unrest amongst employees. It’s understandable that policies and guidelines change, but try and make these changes at the end of each annual leave year. 

To allow employees to feel more involved, managers could always ask for opinions on any changes so suitable solutions can be made. 

Encourage Early Holiday Planning 

Encouraging employees to plan their holidays well in advance benefits both the employees and the organisation. 

Early planning allows HR managers to forecast workload fluctuations and allocate resources accordingly. Additionally, it gives employees ample time to coordinate with their team members, ensuring a smooth workflow during their absence. 

Understandably, annual leave planning isn’t always smooth sailing. Often employees do need emergency time off and that is where things can get tricky regarding managing workload. 

To prevent this organisations could allow for remote working on the occasion that employees can’t come into work, this would reduce the need for any emergency cover plans.  In situations where remote work is not an option, it is important to have the employees up to date workload and staff ready to cover and take over. 

Implementing a Holiday Tracker

Honestly, using a spreadsheet to keep track of employee holidays requires so much time, attention and upkeep, resulting in HR managers losing time to complete more important tasks. Our efficient holiday tracker software can streamline the holiday management process and enhance accuracy and efficiency.

Investing in a reliable holiday tracking software allows employees to submit holiday requests digitally, simplifying the process. Our software can automatically calculate holiday entitlements, helping employees plan their time off accordingly.

Moreover, our holiday tracker software provides HR managers with an overview of the organisation’s holiday schedule, making it easier to manage staffing levels and workload during peak holiday seasons. It can also generate reports to analyse holiday trends and identify any patterns or issues that need attention. 

Benefits of Implementing The Holiday Tracker 

  • Efficient Leave Management: With our holiday tracker software, HR managers can efficiently manage and track employee leave, reducing manual paperwork and the risk of errors whilst saving valuable time. 
  • Centralised Data: The software centralises all holiday-related data, making it easy for HR managers to access and analyse employee leave patterns, helping them plan more effectively 
  • Real Time Visibility: Gain real time visibility into employee availability, make data driven decisions and ensure adequate staffing levels during holidays.
  • Automatically Calculates Entitlement: The Holiday Tracker takes into account start dates, work patterns and public holidays before calculating each employee’s entitlement. 
  • Enhanced Employee Experience: Implementing holiday tracker software demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance, enhancing the overall employee experience and satisfaction.
  • One Simple Price: The Holiday Tracker is one simple price, and with no minimum contract length you can change your mind at any time. 

For more insight to The Holiday Tracker you can book a demo with us to take a full tour of our software and ask any questions you may have along the way. 


Effective management of employee holiday and workload is crucial for HR managers to maintain a harmonious work environment whilst ensuring productivity and employee satisfaction. Building a company policy, planning ahead, staying flexible and utilising technology through a holiday tracker software are essential strategies to achieve successful holiday management. 

By following these tips and leveraging technology, HR managers can strike the right balance between employee well-being and business needs – leading to a thriving and engaged workforce.

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