In a nutshell: Take these important steps to make sure your small business continues to run smoothly as your employees leave to enjoy the summer.

Summertime is for beaches, popsicles and barbeques. In other words, lots of fun. But small businesses should take this time of year seriously. Summer may pose some unique challenges. Even if it’s not your busiest time of year, employees may be taking more vacation days than usual. Read on to learn about how you can deal with increased absences and anything else the season brings.

It’s no surprise that employees want days off during the summer months. After all, children are out of school and the weather is desirable. And, frankly, vacation is good for us. But you still have a business to run. If vacation requests are dampening your productivity, there are a few tips that will help alleviate this:

One: Create Vacation Policies

Your vacation policy can state anything it needs to that will ensure your company’s success during the season. Just remember that you want to take your employees’ desires into consideration. It’s about balancing your company’s needs and employees’ happiness. If you need a full staff during certain periods of time, consider creating a blackout period. Just use it sparingly and be sure to alert staff of this well ahead of time so there are no misunderstandings.

Two: Coordinate Scheduling

Make sure you have adequate coverage for every day and week throughout the summer. This may mean you only allow a certain number of employees off each day or you require at least some representation from each department available each day. Whatever you decide is necessary, include it in your vacation policy. A simple way to deal with an influx of vacation requests is a first come, first served rule. Consider hosting a shareable vacation calendar that employees can reference to see if other employees have already requested the days off.

[Related article: Become a Super Scheduler]

Three: Delegate Responsibilities

If vacation time is scheduled in advance, it should be easy to ensure business as usual by delegating responsibilities. Be sure there is someone else in the company that can take over each person’s job in their absence. Leave some of the delegating up to the employee going on vacation. Include in your vacation policy that employees must set up out-of-office replies on email and voicemail with an alternate contact. And the contact must be able and willing to field additional inquiries.

Four: Communicate to Stakeholders

Ask your employees to set up their coverage before they go on vacation. This includes proactively alerting clients, vendors and coworkers that they’ll be unavailable for a specified period. They should be specific about how long they will be out of the office and who is best to contact for immediate needs. Start this process a couple of weeks before leaving on vacation so they have the opportunity to address anything on their minds well in advance of the absence.

Five: Hire Part-Time Help

Especially if your business sees an uptick in business during the summer months, you may need to consider temporary resources to help keep productivity high. An ideal way to get interim help is to have a pool of part-timers that you can call on in times of need. If you’re consistently going to the same resources, they should know the job better than a new candidate.

Even if your business is not necessarily seasonal, you should understand what the summer months bring (even if it is just an increase in vacation requests by employees). Knowing what’s ahead and planning for it well in advance will ensure your success.

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