Preparing for Unexpected Leave: How to Make Sure You're Not Left Hanging


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Employees can leave at the most unexpected moments. Your business can't avoid this, but it can be prepared to deal with it and reduce the damage.

Article 3 Minutes
Preparing for Unexpected Leave: How to Make Sure Y

Whether you run a large organization or a small business, you can experience employees leaving unexpectedly. This may be because of a sudden personal problem, sickness or something as simple as being snowed in and not being able to get to the office. Whatever the cause, you may be left with an employee down for anything from an entire day to several weeks.

It may sound odd that you can be prepared for something unexpected but you definitely can. Often these can be difficult circumstances for the employee, such as a bereavement or sickness, so being equipped as a company means you can offer them all the support they need.

There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that when an employee does suddenly have to leave work, whether for the short or long-term, your company isn't going to crumble.

Promote collaboration

You may have teams of individuals that work closely together on certain projects or departments that largely keep themselves to themselves, either way it's important to encourage collaboration.

By promoting a culture where people working together are open with each other and updating their colleagues on their progress, you'll be in a much better position should someone suddenly not be able to come to the office.

Even if you are only aware of roughly where they were in the project, this will save you a lot of time when trying to ensure progress doesn't completely stall until they can return to work.

Be clear about your hierarchy

Most companies want to break down siloes and the word hierarchy is rarely ever spoken anymore, but it's important that everyone is aware of the chain of command. For example, if your main accountant is off unexpectedly, who should expenses go to? Making this as clear and transparent as possible will ensure there is the least amount of disruption when an employee is on leave, both planned and unplanned.

This isn't just important for managers and top-level employees but for anyone who is a key part of a project or aspect of the business. As a reminder, get people to include the person who is the next point of contact in their out of office signature. This will benefit clients, but also remind any employees.

Ensure documents are accessible

If your company uses something like Google Drive or Microsoft's One Drive, sharing documents is fairly straightforward. However, it's important that this is common practice for everyone. Of course, you won't want every single document being open to each employee in the company, so make sure you’re selective.

Not only may there be an issue of privacy, but you also don't want people to have thousands of documents that are shared with them. Instead, have employees ensure all members of their team are shared into the projects they are working on, as well as the person listed as the next point of contact.

This will ensure there is as little disruption as possible when someone needs to take sudden leave from work.

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