26 Oct 2021

Can technology help swamped HR professionals manage a surge in holiday requests?




After the relaxation of the rules for travel abroad last month, Thomas Cook[i] reported that half-term bookings were up by 200% and are also expecting a surge in Christmas bookings after the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said the changes would last “at least” until the beginning of 2022[ii].

Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ People HR says that managing a big rise in holiday requests, as the year comes to an end will be a major challenge for already stretched HR teams.

Adrian says, “Many workers have delayed booking holiday leave because of the fear of travel restrictions being introduced at short notice but now there is lot of pent up demand to go abroad which could see a surge in requests.

“Add this to the usual end of year scramble for time off as often companies have a ‘use it or lose it’ policy and HR teams could be overwhelmed by requests which they find difficult to process and manage on top of their already busy workloads.”

A newspaper poll[iii] in July revealed that more than a third of Londoners had yet to take a single day of annual leave this year, and one in five (20%) skipped at least 10 days of holiday entitlement last year. Another report by the rail industry highlighted people had deferred 124 million days of annual leave due to Covid[iv].

The consequences of not taking any down time were highlighted earlier this year in a study from CV Library[v] which found that 42% of UK workers were on the brink of burnout, with 68% citing work as the main factor.

Adrian says, “Taking annual leave is important for people’s health and wellbeing and should be encouraged. Although it’s understandable why people have left booking time off until the last minute, this doesn’t help HR teams who have had a challenging 18 months dealing with all the HR issues around Covid.

“Companies who rely on emails, spreadsheets and even verbal conversations to manage holiday requests, may struggle to keep accurate records, which could inadvertently result in too many people being off at once and workplaces short staffed.”

A USA study this year by Paychex[vi] highlighted that when companies rely on a manual approach, HR effort increases significantly.  Over half (51%) of HR leaders surveyed said that administering and managing employee leave manually was ‘very inconvenient’, in contrast 17% said using an integrated HR technology system was ‘very convenient’.

Adrian adds, “In this day and age there is no excuse for doing things manually. Investing in absence technology to ease the workload on HR teams not only makes things like requesting and approving holiday leave seamless, it helps ensure staff are taking time off which is a good for their wellbeing.

“The system also tracks other absence such as sick leave and study leave, giving companies complete visibility over the work force so they spot any patterns which could indicate an issue. Having access to absence data can help companies run a tighter ship and have a better understanding of their employee’s behaviour.”

For more information on Active People HR visit: www.activpeoplehr.co.uk.

[i] https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/16171819/brits-book-holiday-travel-test/

[ii] https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/16172955/christmas-holidays-booking-covid-travel-rules-grant-shapps/

[iii] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/londoners-skipping-annual-leave-waiting-certainty-holiday-b945991.html

[iv] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/londoners-skipping-annual-leave-waiting-certainty-holiday-b945991.html

[v] https://metro.co.uk/2021/08/02/how-businesses-can-help-stop-their-employees-suffering-from-burnout-15022528/

[vi] https://www.paychex.com/sites/default/files/2021-07/pulse_of_hr_2021.pdf