Three of your four top, long-standing employees request to use their vacation time during the same time period. You can’t have all three out at once, so how do you determine who stays and who goes?

September 2015

1. Who is the senior employee? 2. Does one have a family who has to [deal] with school being in session and can only take certain times? 3. Three names in a hat. First picked gets first choice, then next year the second pick would be first choice and following year the third would be first choice.

Years ago we instituted a policy of not permitting more than two office employees to be off at the same time. So we have people reserving time off months ahead. It can be crippling to have more than two out at a given time.
—Rob Aird, President, Aird Incorporated, Frederick, Maryland


Trial by combat.

All would be allowed to take their vacation. It is our employees’ responsibility to have their projects covered and have a backup at all times. If we can’t survive with people out, then we are not running a good business.

Here in the Capital district in Albany you have no choice to deal with because if you tell them “No, you can’t,” they will go anyway.

If it’s not possible to have someone else in our organization who can cover for the group, it becomes “first come, first served.” Exception is if someone has extenuating circumstances such as an important family issue, and then it becomes negotiable with the other requesters.

By the first request.

Well not sure how you have vacation time set up, but if you have a form set to hand in on the first of the year on days off helps, but if they all turned in at same time, the person with the longest time on the job would have first request. I would say also maybe if there is an urgent need for one of them to go—family problems—maybe others can see that is more important and maybe request other days off. Or, just let them know how important it is to have them at the job, have them talk among each other and come to their own solution. Don’t wait till last minute to bring this to their attention; maybe two can have off and the other two can cover for them. It would be the owner of the company to make final say, and if they were long-time employees, they would know their importance to the company.

Tell them to work it out.

Fire the first one that asked and see if the other three still want to go.

1. The one who requested first. 2. Who is needed more? 3. Seniority.

Assuming all have not yet made definitive plans—i.e., booking flights, accommodations, etc.—basically utilize the ancient game of chance, such as drawing straws, numbers from a hat or similar. What could be more fair and at the same time relatively impersonal?

Loyalty, job performance, who has proved to be there when needed. Gone the extra mile.
—Kevin Lithgow, KL Drywall LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rock, paper and scissors.

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