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Summer in the contact center brings with it a host of challenges. Not only do you have seasonal demand changes to consider, but you’re likely to be dealing with a host of employees hoping to book time away with their families.

Vacations are crucial to maintaining team morale and engagement. No matter how passionate your employees are about their work, they need time to rest and rejuvenate.

Unfortunately, when your staff members need time off, there are a variety of scheduling and customer service challenges to overcome. It’s best to determine how you will organize the rest of your workforce and set up policies to preserve excellent customer service during absences.

How to Plan and Schedule Vacation Time

Managing any contact center environment during a vacation-heavy period can be complex. Whether your agents are remote, hybrid, or in the center, the absence of a crucial staff member can cause significant disruptions.

One of the first steps in keeping those disruptions to a minimum is investing in the correct level of analytics and forecasting. Collecting valuable data about your team’s performance levels and changing customer service demands can help you understand when you’re most likely to need extra support. Historical insights allow you to predict periods of peak demand so you can prepare.

While you don’t want to discourage your team from taking vacations at specific periods in the year, you can take extra steps to ensure your CX strategy remains consistent. Consider working with outsourced specialists during necessary times or bringing additional temporary staff into the mix to handle the overflow.

Tips for Managing Vacations

Once you’ve got a clear view of when you’ll need all-hands-on-deck or extra support, you can begin to develop a more comprehensive plan for managing employee vacation time. Start by setting up a policy for staff members requesting and scheduling vacation time.

Make sure your team members know when you need their assistance and establish rules for how many people in a single group can take time away concurrently. You can use wallboard technology and agent dashboards to keep your staff up to date on when their colleagues won’t be available so that they can arrange their vacations accordingly.

It’s also worth having policies for when your employees should request vacation time. Most contact centers won’t be able to quickly fill the gap of a missing employee with short notice. Additional training time will need to be accounted for if onboarding any temporary outsourced teams to help you.

With that in mind, team members should give as much notice as possible about upcoming vacations lasting more than one or two days. Ask your staff to keep you informed as early as possible and encourage them to let their team members know when they will be out. This will ensure other staff members are ready to pitch in when their colleagues aren’t available.

Implement Positive Vacation Strategies

The stress associated with re-scheduling a team around an employee’s vacation can be overwhelming. However, employees need to get time away from their job, particularly when self-care and mental health are so important.

When your employees do take vacations, remind them they have the freedom to switch off from work completely. Encourage them to use “do not disturb” or “out of office” mode on software like Microsoft Teams to communicate their status to colleagues.

You can also ask your staff members to create an “out-of-office” message for their email accounts to let clients and other employees know who can help in their absence, and when they’ll be available again to discuss any issues. This simultaneously empowers your employees to make the most of their rejuvenation period while keeping other team members informed.

Ensure each of your employees knows:

  • Not to disturb other employees when they’re taking vacation time
  • What is expected when other employees are on vacation
  • How they can schedule time away from work in the least disruptive way possible
  • How to request time off and make changes to requests in advance
  • What information to include in out-of-office messages for messaging and email apps

Vacations can be a stressful concept for business leaders to manage. However, when implemented correctly, they are critical to maintaining employee engagement and productivity.

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