This is how you cover staff holidays (the secret is to outsource!)

July 03, 2024 by Natalie Brewer
This is how you cover staff holidays (the secret is to outsource!)

Taking a break from work is very important for your staff to refresh, regroup and spend time with friends, family and significant others.  No one disputes the need for a holiday from work and everyone agrees that people feel and work much better after them.  But as a business owner, how do you cover staff holidays?  Who does the work in their place?

The trick is to plan ahead

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” as Benjamin Franklin once said. When it comes to employee absence, he is right!  By planning ahead you can discover the best way to ensure that work is still completed.  Here are the actions you can take to start the planning process.

  1. Working with the employee who is going on leave, create a list of all the activities that are:
    1. Time sensitive or urgent – these tasks have to be completed in their absence they may include running payroll, managing social media, taking client calls, invoicing and so on
    2. Important – they need doing but could be done before or after the holiday
    3. Tasks on the to do list that could be done anytime but aren’t priority actions
  2. Be realistic – what can your staff member complete before they go away?  Remember, you do not want to burn them out before they go or they will not enjoy all the benefits of a break.
  3. Once you have your list of prioritised actions – start the delegation process.

Delegation of tasks during an employee absence

This is where you have options as you delegate tasks to ensure they are completed as required.

  1. Where possible, ask the employee to complete certain tasks before they go away and if they can, automate certain actions e.g. social media posts can be scheduled to automatically post on a certain date and time, set diary reminders for meetings/travel and so on.
  1. Tasks that have to be done in real time – delegate these tasks to:
    1. Another member of the team
    2. Take them on yourself
    3. Hire a temp to come into your office
    4. Consider using an external virtual assistant or bookkeeper

There are pros and cons to all of these options. Do you team members have the capacity or skillset to take on additional tasks?  Do you have a desk and computer for a temporary member of staff and do you have the time to train them? 

Outsource those time sensitive and critical tasks

Have you considered outsourcing your holiday cover to a virtual PA or bookkeeper?  These are skilled experts who work remotely – no need to provide computers, phones or any other equipment!  Their knowledge enables them to hit the ground running and quickly complete tasks from payroll to diary management, from bank reconciliations to booking travel – without the need for training!

They also have the skillset to complete some of those tasks that may have been on the to do list for some time such as researching competitors, creating an online filing system, or organising a staff training or away day.

Bringing in additional support gives you and your team confidence that any current projects can be completed on time and to the required standard. The burden on your employees is eased, so they can continue with their own jobs without worrying about covering a colleague’s work. It also offers a chance to expose employees to skills and knowledge that may otherwise would not have been available.

Whether you decide to hand over tasks to another team member, to a temp, or to outsource them to a virtual PA or bookkeeper, you need to ensure that there is a clear plan and instructions of what needs to be done, when, and how. Make sure that the cover person has access to the right website and passwords, and any other policies/procedures.  It is practical to write all this information down and have a checklist of what needs to be done, be it daily, weekly or as a one-off task.

Holidays are a legal requirement

The law states that all employees have a right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday, including your casual and part-time time staff. It is your duty to give them time off, however, If an employee requests holiday during a time which is inconvenient to your business because of, for example, an increase in trade during that particular period and/or insufficient staff cover, then you can refuse. You can also make it a term of their contract that no holidays may be taken during certain times of year, such as October, if that is your busy trading time.

It’s critical that contracts include all the information about a company’s annual leave policies, including how it’s paid, how much notice they need to give, and if an employee can take unpaid leave.

Encourage staff to take their holidays 

Whilst planning and covering staff holidays takes time and may require investment, it is very important that you encourage your employees to take time off – and as a business owner or manager, you need to set a good example and take a break too. Make annual leave a regular part of the conversation with your team, share when you are away and do not begrudge staff taking holidays.  By creating a business culture where it’s acceptable to go on holiday, you’ll have a more productive and fulfilled workforce.

Don’t forget the out of office message – state when you are back in the office then encourage your team to relax and enjoy themselves!

How the flexible Hour Hands EA team can deliver holiday cover

Hour Hands is made up of experienced Personal Assistants and talented bookkeepers all ready to support you with those urgent and important tasks that you just don’t have the time to complete. From booking travel, to managing your diary and managing your accounts and tax returns – we can help you complete tasks and shift them off your to-do list! By outsourcing your tasks, you can flex when you need support – be it ongoing support or for a one-off project or resolving a particular task. 

To find out more simply call us on 01727 818262. We will ask how we can support you and offer a solution either on an hourly rate or package cost. The choice is yours – we simply want to help.