HANDLING staff absences through the summer
Last weekend saw Glastonbury kick off festival season, and many punters were treated to long queues, Johnny Depp, and a whole lot of music. Some staff may have returned feeling the consequences of a lack of sleep and hours of dancing, but with plenty more festival dates happening over the next few months, you may feel the office is quieter as the holiday requests come flooding in.
They are plenty of benefits to heading to music festivals for your staff, as music can help with depression symptoms, has been shown to elevate moods, and can even help people perform better in high-pressure circumstances in one study.
With Edinburgh Fringe, film festivals nationwide and plenty of food and drink events scattered across the country, it’s not just music events your staff will be interested in. We’ll look at the upcoming big festival dates, and how you can help handle multiple absence requests.
Croydon Comedy Festival – 6th – 30th
Everyone likes a good laugh, right? Well for the jokers in your office, Croydon Comedy Festival might be right up their street. Officially opened back in June, there are plenty of dates for them to sink their teeth into with films, live stand up and theatrical performances.
Laughter has proven to improve moods and relieve your stress responses, according to Mayo Clinic, so there’s benefits for your staff and their wellbeing from getting out and having a good chuckle. Comedy is universal across the age ranges in the office too, with half the British population seeing at least one comedy event in the past three years.
With most of the events featured in Croydon taking place towards the end of the week, depending on the location of your company, requests for annual leave may be manageable as they include the weekend.
To balance requests fairly, make sure you have sufficient cover for the days specified before saying yes. With the festival taking place across the month, there are plenty of opportunities for staff to chortle without clashing schedules.
Wireless Festival – 7th-9th
If they are any hip-hop heads in the office, they will have had this one marked on their calendar. Wireless Festival sees the combination of the new and upcoming rap and grime artists along with classic rap performers like Nas attending.
If you’re a nine to five, Monday to Friday business, the good news is the only day that’ll be affected is Friday. With summer months being arguably the busiest season for annual leave requests, instead of rubber stamping all requests, why not introduce flexible working?
If your line of work isn’t focused on constant customer demand, you could introduce the famous ‘Summer Friday’. This is where if employees work an extra hour each day from Monday to Thursday, they can use the four hours earned to take off on Friday afternoon, or even the entire day if they work more. This ensures output isn’t affected as much as booking the day off as your staff are still doing the same number of hours.
Pepsi is one famous company to offer this summer hours perk as part of their employee benefits package, so it could be an attractive option to your staff who’d rather spend their Friday boogieing than in a board meeting.
Camp Bestival – 27th-30th
Balancing work and childcare in the summer time when schools close is no easy feat for some parents, especially when their colleagues may want to book time off too. Camp Bestival is one of the UK’s most popular family-friendly festivals, with plenty of activities to keep the little ones entertained – they can learn circus skills or ride bikes and go-karts, and there are other activities to cater for babies, toddlers and the older, cool teenagers.
Sure, it’s not solving childcare for the whole summer, but allowing staff the time to satisfy their festival cravings and take their kids is a win-win. Providing it’s not affecting the needs of your business if suddenly all your staff with children take it up, you can offer annual leave purchase where they can buy extra days of holiday as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement. Just be fair with requests and make sure there’s enough cover on the ground.
Edinburgh Fringe – 4th – 28th
For those staff who enjoy the arts and culture, Scotland’s capital and its three-week festival could be an attractive option. With events throughout the whole of August, it’s easy to fairly delegate holiday requests between employees without affecting the number of bodies in the office.
60% of workers are only planning to take a holiday that’s less than a week, so you won’t find many will take the whole time off, or expect to be allowed to spend all their time up in Edinburgh. There are benefits to letting some of your staff see the fringe, as 64% admit they attend the arts to learn new things.
Employees who attend arts events will find it positively supports their health and wellbeing too, with 60% of people are more likely to report good health if they’ve attended an arts event in the last year. Could this be a sign that some of your healthiest staff members may attend the fringe?
Reading and Leeds Festival – 25th – 27th
Some staff will want to spend their holiday time in Reading or Leeds enjoying the glorious sunshine or, more likely, the excessive amounts of mud from the rain. Employees looking to wear their wellies for these festivals, rather than their work wear in the office are lucky that it falls at the weekend before the August Bank Holiday, so they have an extra day’s recovery.
But should you let staff take time off for the UK’s most notoriously raucous fests? Well, researchers found that people who go on more active holidays like this find their productivity recovers quicker compared to those who have a lazy holiday, with 20% of those who take an active holiday admitting they are more likely to be back on top of things within a day.
Music has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and anxiety, which can help staff’s mental and physical health, so again with only two days in the traditional working week potentially being affected, is it worth granting leave to staff who want to attend the festival? It’s down to your cover available but for a good company culture and a motivated team, it’s probably worth letting them go.
Food Festivals – Throughout August
There’s plenty of food events across the UK for your staff to literally sink their teeth into, with Cambridge Thai Festival, Nottingham Food and Drink Festival as well as the London Halal Food Festival just some of the events on during August.
With most of the food events taking place at the weekend, it shouldn’t disrupt the working week too much, although if employees are travelling a long distance they may need a Friday off to make it in time. Food festivals are also a great, slightly left-field option for a team-bonding event with the whole team, particularly if they offer activities like cooking classes or brewing sessions.
In The Woods 2017 – 1st – 2nd
There’s plenty of mystery surrounding this festival, as it takes place in a secret woodland in Kent, where punters don’t know the line-up until a week before it starts.
It’s not just music on offer, In The Woods see a spoken word poetry stage and lots of art to sample over the two-day event. This is probably one for your more hippie members of staff, but being in touch with the great outdoors is no bad thing!
Staring at a computer screen for five days a week, eight hours a day can affect people’s eyes, so an opportunity to get outside and experience mother nature can help prevent Computer Vision Syndrome. Not only that, walking in the forest has shown to be associated with decreased levels of anxiety and less bad moods.
September might not be as hectic in terms of absence requests as children will be back at school, and most summer holidays will be over. But as always, look at staff levels and see if you can cope.
Beer Festivals – Throughout September
Better weather equals beer gardens and there’ll be some ale fanatics and beer lovers in your office who will love a good old beer festival too. Responsible drinking is advised, but there’s plenty of events across the country for your workers to sample, which you can see on this online calendar.
There are some health benefits to drinking beer, believe it or not, such as lower blood pressure and an increase in creativity, which might help them solve that problem at work they’ve been thinking about. This could be another great idea for a team bonding event – it gets everyone in a social atmosphere and could even lead to an increase in motivation for a team who are being rewarded for their hard work.
With beer festivals pretty much every weekend from June onwards, you shouldn’t see a massive drop in staff levels because they’re wanting to go to the same event. If you can, maybe encourage them to have Monday off if they’re feeling worse for wear so you have a more recovered team member for the week ahead.
Raindance Film Festival – 20th – 1st Oct
For the film buffs at work, Raindance might be the red-carpet event they’ve been saving their annual leave for. With classes for film school, taster days of working in the industry and VR experiences, there’s plenty to do. Oh, and there’s a stunning range of films on offer, of course.
Raindance is the largest independent film festival in the UK and is recognised by the Oscars for its film selection, so it has quite a lot of prestige – and you may even see potential Academy Award winners on the circuit. London’s West End has plenty of glitz and glamour for movie-mad staff to be interested in. With the event taking place over a week and a half, you may be able to plan cover or manage without affecting productivity too much.
Randstad research revealed that 36% of employees have cancelled their holidays due to work with 38% also admitting that believe taking fewer vacations makes them better in the eyes of their boss. Doing this can negatively contribute to employee motivation and job satisfaction, so there needs to be a balance.
Helping manage requests
It’s difficult for British employers to manage paid holiday leave, as 75% of employees will take all or almost all of their holiday entitlement this year, ranking them as the highest in the world.
What’s important is keeping the staff morale high and making sure the productivity of the business is still flowing. That means when staff are away you have enough cover in place and can support those who are taking on additional workloads in the interim.
With other options mentioned such as flexible working, summer hours and annual leave purchase, there are alternatives to the standard holiday day. Remember, annual leave requests can be refused, but employees may not respond positively – and this may affect motivation, so it should only be used in extreme circumstances.
Acas has some information on balancing leave requests in the peak summer season, which can help manage expectations and workloads. Alternatively, our employee benefits solutions can help you with some solutions to manage multiple absences requests, such as annual leave purchase schemes. You can get in touch with our team to find out more here.