March 4 –

In many contact centers, the Workforce Management team is responsible for reviewing, approving and scheduling vacations. As such, the WFM team plays a vital role in influencing the overall employee experience, positively or negatively. How quick vacation requests are actioned can make a big difference to an employee’s engagement.

Most people like to plan vacations well in advance. In some contact centers though, asking for time off can be challenging with increased workloads or current staffing levels at certain times of the year. When there might be perceived challenges, it is comforting for employees to know when their vacation request has been approved, as opposed to waiting or chasing for an answer as to whether you can have time off. To make sure everyone feels like they are valued by their employer, both personally and professionally, it is crucial that every effort is made to approve time off in as much advanced notice as possible. The further out that team members can schedule their personal lives and make plans, the more appreciative they will be, improving their overall engagement.

Employees work to live, not live to work.
Time away from work is vital so that people can feel refreshed and as energized as possible to best support customers. It can be incredibly demotivating to submit a vacation request and not receive a response for sometimes weeks or months on end. Unfortunately, there are times when employees don’t hear anything about their request until the day before starting their vacation. People are entitled to their time off. Regardless of industry, vacation time is significant and part of an employee’s total rewards, just like compensation. It means a lot to all employees from an engagement perspective.

Commit to reviewing and approving vacations within 24-48 hours.
WFM practitioners should aim to set a defined service level response time for reviewing and approving all vacation requests. If possible, I recommend 24-48 hours max to turn around all requests. In each contact center, the vacation approval service level will vary though depending on the needs of the business. The WFM team should also look to publish and communicate that commitment to review and approve vacation requests within 24-48 to everyone as part of initially joining the contact center. It helps with improving the employee onboarding experience while adding a level of accountability and ownership for the WFM team to deliver.

If you approve vacations, do them as soon as you can. It will lead to a more engaged workforce, better customer support and improved planning. Focusing on enhancing the employee experience will ultimately improve the customer experience.

Note: This week’s tip provided SWPP Member Chris Hanna of Evolving Management. He may be reached at