Options for Handling Temporary Vacancies

Category: Newsletters Published on Aug 22 2017

Dear Karen,


Summer creates an annual problem for me. It’s difficult to have vacationing employees’ tasks done correctly by someone filling in for them. But the work has to be done. Do you have any ideas for dealing with this?


Amanda, PA

Dear Amanda,


Since it’s already the end of August, I feel a bit behind in answering this question. Yet it’s such an important question because employees taking vacation time can be very disruptive to scheduling.


Vacations are important and employees should be encouraged to go away at least annually and here is why. Time away:

 - Refreshes your employees

 - Leads to overall increases in productivity, creativity, and commitment to the job

 - Decreases incidences of fraud.


The most popular ways to handle vacation time vacancies are:

 - Cross training

 - Documented processes and procedures

 - Temporary staffing

 - Leaving work undone.


Cross training is one of the best approaches. Not only does it provide you coverage for vacations and unexpected absences, it also improves relationships and leads to greater appreciation for coworkers’ skills and abilities. However, cross training is time intensive and can be hard to implement if your staff are already overworked.


Documenting processes and procedures is always a good idea and provides benefits that extend well beyond vacation coverage. Again though, fully documenting and updating procedures is a tedious and time intensive endeavor.


Temporary staffing works best for unskilled and semiskilled labor. The time spent training frequently exceeds the amount of value derived from this approach unless the absence will be for an extended period of time.


A popular approach is just letting the work sit until the employee returns. As an employee I always hated this approach because I felt so overwhelmed when I returned. I would also ask this: If this approach works well for you, how important are these tasks? Do they really need to be done?


I’m sure there are other approaches or hybrid ideas that people are using. If you are willing to share your ideas with Amanda please visit RedKnight’s Facebook page and leave your ideas there.


Have a great day!