Many companies run annual leave entitlements in line with the calendar year, so by the time autumn arrives, staff have used up the majority of their holiday. In light of this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a straight run until Christmas, but there’s a secret threat to personnel resources and productivity within most organisations: time off in lieu (TOIL).

Don't let TOIL ruin Christmas

TOIL is a popular way for businesses to control operational costs while rewarding team members for doing additional work – particularly in shift-based businesses, where extra staff may be required at the last minute. Managed correctly, it’s a great way to give staff the opportunity to increase their available leave entitlement. Managed incorrectly, it’s a scheduling nightmare.

What are the main threats of badly managed TOIL? And how can companies manage time off in lieu alongside paid holiday, to ensure enough staff are available for every shift? As shift planning software experts, we’ve got a few of the answers to hand...

Don’t let December become a TOIL dumping ground

The key to seamless shift planning is staff availability; keeping a close eye on upcoming leave is an important element of the scheduling process. Many companies track allowances throughout the year, to make sure team members are using their days appropriately.

However, not all firms integrate holiday and TOIL, let alone monitor how much TOIL each employee has accrued. This can create a scenario in which staff have a large number of days left to take at the end of the year, and managers are flooded with TOIL requests – usually in December, which is the busiest point in the trading calendar for many businesses.

Senior personnel are then faced with the dilemma of whether to run at a suboptimal staff level and approve all the requests coming through, or to decline them. Choosing the latter means either letting workers carry time over, which just delays the problem until next year, or paying them for that time, which defeats the point of offering TOIL in the first place.

Put TOIL in the shift planning picture

In order to prevent too many staff members taking large chunks of time off in November and December, which causes a shift planning nightmare for managers and team leaders, an increasing number of companies are onboarding platforms like WhosOffice to manage all staff requirements in one place.

Rather than having one system for shift planning and another for tracking leave and TOIL, WhosOffice integrates everything into one solution – so you can plan upcoming shifts well in advance, and cross-reference staffing requirements with who is available, leaving anyone that has already booked time off out of the equation.

WhosOffice gives organisations complete transparency over all types of leave, so TOIL and paid holiday can be easily tracked in the same system. This way, senior staff can identify who still has a lot of time left to take towards the end of the year, and encourage them to start booking time off rather than use it in bulk. When requests come through, they can be assessed centrally to see who has already had leave confirmed, to avoid too many staff – or staff at the same level – being off at once.

Most importantly, WhosOffice shows which employees have had leave approved when team leaders are putting schedules and rotas together, to prevent them accidentally assigning a shift to someone who has taken time off in lieu. This way, there are no nasty surprises at the last minute.

Book a free WhosOffice trial to see the benefits of managing TOIL and annual leave within your shift planning software.

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