Do you “deserve” some time off?

As we approach the holiday season, time off from work always comes to mind.  In many contact centers, the days and weeks around the holidays are some of the most coveted choices when it comes to getting time off from work.  I myself am getting ready to take a vacation next week and as I finalized my plans, I started thinking about all of the various methods used to schedule time off. 

While there are certainly many ways of evaluating and approving time off in the contact center, one of the more common ones is vacation bidding.  Similar to schedule bidding, vacation bidding can be a great option when it comes to allocating time off across the contact center.  One of the more common processes used in the U.S. is annual or semi-annual bids for vacation based on seniority.  Agents bid for time off in order of seniority (highest tenure first, lowest tenure last) until everyone has had an opportunity to schedule some time off.  After the bid is over, first-come/first-serve is often used to address any new requests for time off.   This process works well for most organizations but as I thought back through all of the vacation bids’ I’ve processed over the years, one question came to mind.  Why isn’t performance more of a factor in vacation bidding as it is in schedule bidding?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that an employees’ tenure should have some influence on their life at work but I just don’t know that using it as the only factor for time off is the best option.  In a seniority bidding environment, it is still possible to be a “bad” employee (i.e. low quality, low productivity, attendance problems, etc.) and get what many would consider to be the highest prize of all… the holiday week off. 

A better balanced option would be to integrate performance into the vacation bidding process.  Performance could be used as one of the criteria or the only criteria for approving time off requests.  Even if it’s combined with tenure, it still sends a better message than tenure alone.  I am just not a fan of incenting the people that don’t perform with raises, better schedules or time off.  I would love to hear from some of you on this. What criteria do you use for scheduling time off and how many of you are already using performance as part of that program?