Summer months are peak vacation season for employees leaving many employers scrambling to figure out the best way to have coverage for their office. It can be a hair-pulling exercise depending on the size of your team and complexities involved. Here are some tips that work well if you find yourself in this dilemma.

Before you approve anything, set and communicate parameters around scheduling time off.

  • Set a date for vacation submission so you can review all requests at the same time. You should also give yourself several weeks prior to start of summer month period to communicate and finalize approvals.
  • Specify your summer month period. Is it starting June 1st or July 1st and when does it end?
  • Be clear if there is a limit to how many consecutive weeks can be booked at a time. Depending on your operation, you may not be  to allow more than two or three weeks at a time.
  • Specify parameters around summer hours. If your company hours vary during the summer months, enabling staff to take Fridays off every 2-3 weeks, be clear about tracking methods and exceptions.
  • If it makes sense, why not let your employees sort out their vacation schedules amongst themselves and share their results for your final approval? It gives them autonomy and flexibility to work it out and saves you a ton of time.

Once you have reviewed your requests and noticed significant shortage during certain weeks, here are some tips to consider:

  • Assess if the employees may be flexible in their requests. You can include this in your submission form and have them offer alternative dates that might work.
  • Hire a temp or summer student(s) to assist with certain administrative tasks. This is especially useful if your business picks up during the summer months. You will also need to hire and train these individuals prior to your summer period, so don’t forget to plan ahead.
  • Prioritize workloads and manage expectations with remaining staff during these periods. Although these employees will be carrying a heavier load than usual, it’s important to remind them that their colleagues are doing the same for them when they are off.  

Vacation time means different things to employees and it usually means that employees feel easily overwhelmed upon their return back to the office. Here’s a few tips to help everyone with a smooth transition back.

  • First day back in the office is day 2. Show your return date as day 2 (when you’re back in the office) which gives first day back as an opportunity to catch up on emails and voice messages and prioritize their work at a reasonable pace.
  • Ask the employees who are covering for you to send an email summary or set up a time to meet on your day 1 to discuss priorities and follow-ups.


  • Keep vacation chit-chat to break times or lunch period. It can be disruptive to rehash vacation highlights every time someone ask so be respectful of each other’s time and agree on a common time to share your highlights.

My final comment and tip, to ensure an enjoyable and restful vacation period for your employees, agree that this period is interruption-free. Giving ourselves time away from non-work related activities makes employees come back recharged to tackle current challenges with a fresh perspective. It’s amazing what the brain allows us to do when we take a break.


Enjoy your vacation season!