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HR Planning - How to Manage Your Leave Policy Structure

HR planning is a crucial part of every business and one of its core elements is handling the leave structure. As per Forbes Advisor, employees take an average of 20.3 days off per year and this does add up on your bottom line. The fewer number of days off the better in general since the company will make more profit. 

\However, things may not be as clear as it may seem on the surface. We must consider other factors like days off due to mental health. As per the Mental Health Foundation, about 12% of absence days in the UK are due to mental health conditions. These conditions arise largely due to the nature of work or the culture of the workplace. 

Since work culture, mental health and days off tie-up closely, creating a well-defined and considerate leave structure positively affects every company. In fact, if this is not already part of your HR planning, here’s a detailed guide for how to update your HR leave policy structure in 2024:

HR Planning: Making the Leaves Count

Balance the Leaves by Quarter

On average, corporate workers get between 12 to 20 leaves per year depending on the policies of the company. However, it is also true that most of them do not find the time to use up all their leaves. And in fact, some of them might even end up working during their paid leaves or sick leaves. Another big reason why this may happen is that employees did not take their leaves every month but had to use them up at the end of the year.

Keep in mind that leaves are a great way for companies to develop a strong HR planning process. By reminding employees of their paid leaves or pending leaves each month, they open up new lines of communication. It shows the workers that the Human Resource team cares for their rights and wants to give them their due. Further, paid leaves for workers with families is a good way to foster a family-friendly work culture. Also, making a mandatory paid leave take it or lose it/get paid for it policy is a good way to keep clearing that leave backlog.

Separate Medical from Non-Medical

Medical leaves cannot count for leaves at any cost. Just like with physical health, paid leaves for mental health are a rising issue in the world. Companies are now working to recognize the need for paid leaves for mental health particularly after the pandemic. As per McKinsey, employers have a critical role to play in addressing a range of negative (mental) health outcomes at work beyond burnout. And one of the best ways to support the mental health of your employees is to recognize the need for separate leaves for mental health in your HR planning process. 

Seriously, the importance of a HR planning program that offers mental health leaves cannot be overstated. According to Gartner, when economic problems loom, employees might stick with a job but they do not put in the extra effort. Instead, they do what is called Quiet Quitting that is making the minimum effort needed to keep earning their paycheck. This is bad for businesses and bad for employees too. So, the better alternative is to offer days off so that employees avoid burnout and mental fatigue accruing from economic downturns or any other factor. This helps raise morale and boosts the confidence employees have in their companies. 

Paid Leaves Should Be Leaves

One of the biggest hurdles you may find in defining the functions of HR planning is how they are implemented. While the idea of free days with paid leaves might seem good on paper, they are only as good as their actual uptake. And by that, we mean the days that employees actually take up that they are not doing any work at home. This is a very common experience among corporate workers across the US. According to trusted sources, as many as half of the workers who take paid time off end up working their leaves anyway. This is usually because there is a lot of work pressure on them and they’d rather do the work than risk a career downturn. 

5 important stats on office leaves

This fact highlights one of the biggest needs and importance of HR planning at a company level. If you have enough employees delegated tasks that those on leave do not need to work on vacation days, then your HRP is good. This will guarantee that employees have the free time they have been promised and also refresh themselves to give more at work without risking enhanced fatigue. In short, paid leaves or free leaves, no workers should be forced or by indirect compulsion required to work their holidays. 

Offer Compensation for Leaves When Possible

While we would love it if workers were to take the leaves they have pending, that's not always possible. In many cases, workers have to stay at work to complete projects or simply refuse to take up paid leave days. This clash in ideology must not turn into a reason for antipathy thinking. After all, the role of HR planning is to enable employees to give their best at work. So, the best thing to do is to create compensatory mechanisms for non-redeemed paid leaves. 

If your workers do not take paid leave, there should be adequate compensation for it just like overtime. This could be in the form of a vacation package for their family and or something like an added bonus at the end of the quarter. The point is to appreciate the dedication that the employee is showing by giving them the option to relax on the company payroll. This is a very good strategy for developing strong employee loyalty while also ensuring they are refreshed and ready after their vacation or happy and motivated by their compensation.

Encourage Personal Growth Opportunities

Good HR planning is not just about setting up your team roles and tasks to work like a Swiss timepiece. It is also about creating a strong safety network that fosters growth and encourages your office employees to give their best. One of the ways to do so is to create a leave use segment on their profile and understand how they use their paid time off. 

A lot of companies run some kind of benefit program like family vacation days or free memberships at clubs. Using the paid leave structure to complement employee benefits choices is a good way to hit two targets together. And for sure, employees appreciate it when you make leave days worth their while with their preferred hobby. This is also a great way to create a strong rapport with the team and keep them working up good numbers quarter on quarter!

What Should Be Your HR Planning Leave Policy in 2024?

HR Planning for 2024 at any enterprise must consider the best use case for leave. This is a good foregrounding for understanding what makes the leave structure work for each kind of employee and how it may be used to enhance their off-time further. Along with that, the HR coordinator or manager considers how they can ensure that all leaves are taken as leaves and not working holidays to maximize mental health and well-being. Consider speaking to your HR team and employees to understand how you can allocate leaves to give them the maximum benefit while retaining high production rates. For more insightful blogs, stay up to date with HR Helpboard!

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