Time-off requests tend to come in batches, especially right around a holiday. Since you can’t let everyone take vacation at the same time, how do you prioritize the requests?

Consider your company culture and business needs, then develop a transparent way to make decisions on who gets time off and when, said Andy Thiede, a consultant at human resources firm KardasLarson with more than 25 years of experience.

She has some suggestions on ways to choose which employees get time off when more than one person asks for the same dates:

  • First-come, first-served: “Grant the time off to the employee who first requested the days off,” she said.
  • Seniority: “Grant the time off to the employee with the most tenure,” she said.
  • Consensus: “Meet with the employees who want the same weeks off. By discussing it together, some employees may agree to choose another week, or choose to take only part of the week off,” said Thiede. “Give consideration for extenuating circumstances, such as out-of-town relatives coming to stay, or a milestone family event, such as a wedding.”
  • Lottery: “Consider random selection among the employees who want the same time off.”
  • Whichever strategy you choose to use, implement it consistently and fairly.

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