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A practical guide to managing time-off requests

Need a time out from time-off requests? These tips will transform the process from a bother into a breeze.

Let’s face it, managing time-off requests can be a real headache. Whether you’re running a busy chain of restaurants, a string of retail stores, or a multi-department office, there’s a fine balance between meeting your employees’ needs and running a tight operational ship. 

Before breaking out into a cold sweat at even the mention of time-off requests, stay calm – we’re on hand to help. This blog will cover the best practices for managing requests, from putting fair policies in place to implementing digital tools for seamless and hassle-free shift scheduling.

Here is a practical guide to managing time-off requests:

Lay down the ground rules

Setting clear guidelines from the get-go regarding how staff request time off creates fair conditions for your entire workforce. Managing expectations is easier said than done, but putting a few simple rules in place keeps everyone on the same page:

  • Define clear-cut policies: Establishing easy-to-follow rules on how requests should be submitted, when they can be made, and how often sets expectations and saves you from having to have any uncomfortable conversations.
    • Pro tip: Set a deadline for requests so you can plan for busy periods in advance and ensure you have adequate cover while accommodating as many requests as possible. 
  • Handling overlapping requests: Vacation requests tend to come in waves, with next to everyone seeking a piece of the summer or holiday season pie. Avoid playing referee by putting a company-wide policy in place to deal with such issues – whether it’s on a first-come-first-served basis, judged on seniority, or using rotating schedules.
  • Shift coverage: Why pile more work onto your plate when your employees can do it themselves? Allowing staff to find their own replacements is a great way to make them feel empowered and to lessen your workload. Encourage them to take the reins and swap shifts with colleagues (provided management agrees the replacement is suitable). 

Include these policies in the employee handbook and make it easily accessible so that frontline workers can answer their own questions. With just a few simple rules in place, you can manage your workforce’s expectations, increase employee satisfaction, and nurture a more harmonious work environment. 

Tech the pressure off

A long time ago in a workforce just like yours…time-off requests were submitted in person. To Gen Zs and some Millennial workers, this might sound as dated as the idea of sending a telegram, but believe it or not, some companies still haven’t embraced tech to handle things like task management or time-off requests. 

The long and short of it is that tech isn’t just your friend – it’s your champion. These days there’s a tech solution for virtually everything needed to make life easier. Some of the most powerful benefits of using a tech solution to manage time-off requests include:

  • Anytime and anywhere access: Make it easy for staff to submit time-off requests whenever it suits them. Implementing a mobile app allows them to quickly and easily submit requests without the need to wait for office hours. Not only does this improve the employee experience, it streamlines the scheduling process for managers. 
  • Standardized time-off request forms: Create a one-size-fits-all time-off request form that covers all the basic information you need to process the request. Nothing will slip through the cracks and you won’t end up chasing up any missing details.
  • Keeping it simple: Look for a workforce management solution with an integrated absence management software – not only will this make it easier for you to control holiday requests, absence costs and regulations, and manage sick time, it’ll make it super simple for employees to book time off using a tool they’re already familiar with. Win-win!
  • A birds-eye view of the business: While allowing staff to handle their own shift coverage eliminates the scramble to find short-notice shift cover, it’s always reassuring to have a back-up. Digitalizing absence management allows you to instantly see which qualified employees are available to pick up the shift, ensuring no station goes unmanned and minimizing disruption to your business operations. And all at just the click of a button.
  • Data collection: Using the power of AI to manage your workforce lets you analyze historical absence data to predict future staffing needs and make sure you’re always covered. From spotting trends to more proactive shift planning, you’ll have everything you need to make smart staff scheduling decisions at your fingertips.


With a few simple tweaks to your absence management process, you can turn handling time-off requests from a weakness into a superpower. Clear communication and standardized processes are the foundations of effective staff scheduling, helping you to balance business needs while treating all your employees fairly – regardless of their rank. Implementing a digital scheduling tool streamlines the process from start to finish, ensuring transparency and contributing to a positive work environment.

Learn more about how Quinyx’s Workforce Management platform for retail can help you to optimize absence management and increase employee satisfaction. 

Retail Workforce Management


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