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How to manage employee absences during peak periods

The holiday season is upon us, and while it's a time of joy and celebration, it can also be a juggling act, especially for HR teams and departmental managers.

When you have employees working remotely or hybrid, and sick days are the highest in a decade, monitoring the presence of both on-site and worldwide staff during time off presents difficulties.

Whether it's summer holidays or celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah holidays, effectively handling employee scheduling during these busy periods requires skill, patience, and open communication.

But how can you prepare for a busy holiday season, ensure your people are treated fairly, and maintain business continuity?

This blog post will offer practical advice and real-world examples to help you manage employee leave successfully during the holiday season. Maintain a harmonious work environment and keep work on track.

Plan ahead, and then plan some more

The famous writer and philosopher Benjamin Franklin once said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail." And that couldn’t be further from the truth when managing employee absence.

The key to success in handling holiday and sickness absences is planning. Start early by encouraging employees to submit their time-off requests or planned sick leave as soon as possible. This allows you to anticipate staffing gaps and make adjustments. 

Let’s say you lead a team of ten software developers. One of them, Lukas, who works from home, had to take a two-week break during a critical project phase. Thanks to the early leave request, Lukas gave the HR team and his manager enough time to prepare for his absence.

His manager was able to adjust project timelines, assign temporary support, and ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities. Not only did this early planning benefit the company, but it also relieved Lukas of stress–knowing that his absence wouldn't jeopardise the project or burden his colleagues.

HR transformation software, such as Appogee Leave, has comprehensive features to help small and large organisations plan for holidays, sickness, and other absences, like maternity leave and paid time off.


Encourage employees to submit their leave requests early. Advanced leave requests give you more time to plan for coverage and ensure business operations continue smoothly. This allows for better resource allocation and avoids last-minute staffing crises.

Keep track of employee allowances

Ditch manual spreadsheets for keeping track of employee leave. Reduce the potential for manual data entry in spreadsheets, such as miscalculating employee leave entitlements or accidentally deleting absence data. 

Lower the chance of overpaying or underpaying employees for allowances. Inconsistencies or errors in allowances result in more work and employee dissatisfaction–negatively impacting morale and motivation.

Track and report on all types of staff leave, including holiday requests, sickness leave, medical appointments, and more. As Appogee Leave is cloud-based, you can access real-time information from one centralised, user-friendly platform–regardless of work location.

Use a holiday tracker to make better decisions about leave approval and deciding to hire temporary staff to backfill any operational gaps. Assess requests for extended leave beyond initial approvals, considering the reason and impact on the team.

  • “The best part of the system is the leave management software - it allows employees to simply submit their requests, while HR can have oversight on all the allowances.” –Anne Mwicigi, HR Shared Services Manager at M-KOPA

Work out whether absences qualify for paid time off (PTO) or unpaid leave. Simplify the management of sick leave by collaborating with employees and managers. Create return-to-work plans-including phased return schedules. When employees request sick leave, absence management software helps you check medical documentation–aligning with company policies and legal requirements.

Maintain good communication 

Since nearly half of employees report their productivity being affected by ineffective communication, some 45% of workers say poor communication reduces trust in leadership and their team.

Transparent communication builds trust. Give your people clear and consistent information regarding their leave and reduce administrative burden by empowering them to find answers to questions such as:

  1. How much annual leave do I have?
  2. What sick leave have I taken this year?
  3. When can I start maternity leave?
  4. Will I be paid during my absence?

Employee self-service portals enable people to find answers to their inquiries without sending separate emails to HR or a line manager.


By sending automated notifications and reminders to employees and their managers, everyone is well-informed, and leave requests and approvals are not overlooked.

  • “The fact that our staff can update their own details and see their leave information has reduced the number of queries from employees and managers alike.”--Vicky Madigan, HR & Business Coordinator at SEM Energy

Considering HR transformation software integrates with the rest of your HR software, like Google Workspace, Xero, and Microsoft 365, you can feel confident that important messages to employees, whether it's regarding policy updates, benefits information, or reminders about outstanding medical notes, reach employees effectively and consistently.

Comply with regulations

For companies with a global workforce, getting ready for a busy holiday season can be tricky. Various cultural customs and holiday schedules can leave HR teams with the challenge of complying with employment rules and regulations. 

Online absence management software makes it easy for organisations with international teams to manage time-off requests and comply with local legislation. Features, like global public holiday calendars for various countries, allow for better workforce scheduling and compliance.  

Manage different rules and regulations related to employee absences by providing location-specific leave policies and tracking mechanisms. Recognise public holidays easily and plan employee absence well, such as adjusting work patterns that remain compliant with legislation. 

Understanding public holiday profiles is crucial for ensuring employees in different countries receive the appropriate holiday benefits.

Request attachments

Around 80% of information is still paper-based in most companies. Documents such as jury letters, wage slips, and employee performance review letters create the potential for sensitive information to go missing or breach confidentiality. 

Electronic document storage features help you manage employee absence with ease and concentrate on other business priorities during the holiday period and beyond. 

Request and store attachments electronically. Employees can select a new request from their dashboard and submit documents with delay–giving you the option of viewing any outstanding paperwork and following up when needed.

Reduce the potential for data security issues. Electronic storage allows for encryption, password protection, and backup solutions to enhance sensitive document security.

Secondly, find what you need fast. Digital documents, such as medical notes or sickness absence letters, can be searched, sorted, and retrieved faster than manually searching through paper files–enhancing efficiency.

Make tracking changes easier. Get a chronological record of all leave-related attachments, ensuring transparency and accountability. Maintain compliance with regulatory requirements and produce audit trails.

Apply a fair and consistent approach

Did you know that 79% of employees trust their co-workers ahead of their manager, head of HR, and business leader?

Failing to implement a fair and consistent approach to managing employee absences can have significant consequences. Inconsistencies may lead to demoralised employees, reduced productivity, and distrust.

Not only that, assigning the workload of absent employees to others without considering their capacity can lead to burnout and reduced morale.

Imagine a company that lacks a standardised leave management system. One employee is granted an extended paid leave without hesitation, while another, facing a similar situation, is denied their request–likely to decrease job satisfaction, morale, and productivity. 

Using the same example, a company with a well-structured leave management policy ensures equitable treatment. When both employees receive fair and consistent responses to their leave requests, it creates trust and employee satisfaction.  

Cloud-based employee leave software, like Appogee Leave, can ensure your employees are treated fairly. Automated tracking features, for example, can track accrued leave-making it easier to ensure fairness and consistency in leave allocation. Approval workflows provide a structured process for leave requests, ensuring that each request goes through the same process and gets approved or denied based on predefined criteria.

Take time for reflection

Carve out space to learn from past holiday periods when managing employee absence. This can lead to a more efficient, compassionate, and prepared approach to handling future holiday periods–benefiting both employees and your organisation. 

Review past holiday periods to refine and improve your absence management policies. Reflect on current procedures to better accommodate employee needs for future holidays.

HR transformation software, like Appogee Leave, can give you the information you need. Get comprehensive data and analytics–past and present with reporting and analytics tools that track leave trends and analyse data.

Create customised absence reports on a schedule that fits your business's reporting cycles and ad hoc demands.

The holiday season can be an excellent time for reflection. After it's over, take a moment to analyse what worked well and what could be improved. Use these insights to improve your holiday absence management strategies for the future.

Get a complete overview of employee leave

Managing employee absences during the holidays doesn't have to be a headache. With careful planning, open communication, and technology, HR teams and business leaders can keep things running smoothly.

Ensure your employees receive the time off they need while maintaining productivity and compliance with HR rules and regulations. And by managing leave effectively, you create a happier, more engaged, and more efficient workforce. 

Improve your employee absence management processes. Appogee Leave offers an extensive range of features to support you. Book a demo with our experts today, or start a 14-day free trial and try them out yourself.

Why you need absence management tech - Appogee HR
 Source list

2. Forbes
3. Forbes
4. Taylor & Francis Online
5. Edelman