HR teams face leave and (extended) holidays puzzle in 2022

21 April 2022 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read

As borders re-open, new research by people2people has found that employers are up for a major puzzle in dealing with the high number of (extended) holiday requests that will come their way in 2022.

For Australians, expats and international tourists, the reopening of borders is a great step forward to normality. “We all want to travel and experience the world again, and expats will be wanting to go home to see family and friends again,” said Mark Smith, General Manager of recruitment agency people2people.

However, for employers, the travel appetite of their employees at the same time saddles them with a range of operational challenges, including having to deal with a wave of catch-up holiday requests and a larger group of people who will want to go on an extended break.

HR teams face leave and (extended) holidays puzzle in 2022

“Our survey indicates that 43% of employees plan to take more annual leave in 2022 than the previous year, and more than 1 in 4 workers are planning an extended overseas holiday,” said Smith.

“The annual leave crisis is imminent and will no doubt put additional pressure on staffing levels across the board,” stated Smith. “Employers need to assess the impact it will have on their business.”

“As more workers take extended leave, while the labour market is overheated (despite the influx of overseas talent which has re-started), employers must ramp up their recruitment plans and efforts to be ready to face the labour shortage this year.”

So how can employers manage “the long vacation” while retaining their team? Smith’s advice includes:

  1. Set leave guidelines – Deploy set guidelines around annual leave or review the existing framework to take excess leave into account so all employees are clear about the requirements for leave approval.
  2. Create a schedule – Make sure teams work together to create a schedule around leave for the year ahead, giving all employees ample time to have input and gain approval for planned leave.
  3. Look outside the organisation – Temps and contractors are a great resource to fill shortages created by employees taking much needed leave.
  4. Encourage staff – Managers should sit down with employees to gain an understanding of their needs and timeframe for travel and encourage them to take it to ensure a return to balance for the coming year.

On the latter point, Smith added said that in 2021 “an alarmingly high number of 8 in 10 employees” had taken less than two weeks of annual leave. “Making good use of leave is essential to maintain the wellbeing of employees, and down the line benefits organisations through higher levels of engagement.”