Summer has finally arrived – and we don’t just mean the weather. It’s the time of year when a huge number of employees take their annual vacation, and for many businesses, this can lead to shift planning nightmares.

How can companies give valued staff time to relax and recharge their batteries, without it playing havoc with workplace productivity? The answer lies in finding the right shift planning technology to survive the summer exodus.

Summers here!

The stress of summer leave

Most people look forward to their summer holiday throughout the year, but when the time actually arrives, stress can often outweigh excitement.

Many employees worry about the impact taking time off will have on their colleagues’ workload and their own progression, meaning they don’t fully relax until five days into a two-week break, according to Teletext Holidays research.

This fear is not without foundation; all businesses find operating at reduced capacity a challenge, and shift-based organisations can be particularly affected by annual leave. A certain staffing level is needed to make processes run smoothly, and the right mix of people can make a huge difference to productivity. If a key member of the team takes one or two weeks off, finding someone suitable to replace them each shift takes a lot of time and energy.

A painless approach to staff scheduling

Thankfully, there are sophisticated shift planning platforms like WhosOffice on the market, which take the pain out of staff optimisation – particularly around peak holiday periods.

The right technology improves shift management in a number of ways, including:

  • Enabling managers and team leaders to create rotas as far ahead as they want, so there’s plenty of time to work around staff absences
  • Integrating shift planning and leave management software, to flag when someone has been scheduled to work but they’ve already booked time off
  • Setting minimum staffing levels to identify when employee absences are creating shortages that need to be addressed
  • Establishing workforce requirements, including how many employees with a particular skill or seniority level are needed, to meet legal and health & safety regulations
  • Enforcing annual leave policies that stop workers taking too many days off, or lodging holiday requests at the last minute
  • Creating notifications of open shift opportunities that need to be filled, which can be sent through the system to eligible employees
  • Empowering managerial staff to ‘drop in’ new shift pattern codes, so they can easily update schedules based on who can fill the gaps
  • Generating accurate shift data that can be aligned with payroll, to calculate overtime payments for those workers who covered for their colleagues ojn holiday

Finding a solution that can combine shift planning and leave management data is particularly important, as this gives companies complete visibility of who is available to work based on real data. A schedule is only so powerful if you can’t factor-in time off in lieu, sickness and holidays.

Make hay while the sun shines

Annual leave can be tricky to manage at the best of times, but during the summer season when requests surge, the challenge is even greater. Using shift planning platforms like WhosOffice to plan ahead during peak holiday months is critical to avoid under-staffing issues and poor productivity.

The right shift planning tool can work well for companies in two ways. Long range, it enables senior staff to forecast ahead and identify where staff being on leave is likely to cause gaps in the schedule. In the immediate term, it gives managers the flexibility to allocate shifts quickly and easily to cover staff, and communicates these changes not only to the teams involved, but to HR and accounts departments as well.

By working in this manner, every member of the company is able to enjoy the best of summer. Employees can fully relax on their vacation, company bosses know their organisation is still functioning well, managers have a complete team in place, and staff still working can boost their pay packet with a few extra shifts. It’s a winning situation all round.

Make short work of summer holiday scheduling with WhosOffice. Our people management platform includes flexible shift planning software and integrated annual leave tools, so you can easily plan ahead based on available resources.

Try WhosOffice for free to see how our technology works.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from