When a business owner or manager hears that a key employee is planning to go on vacation, it can cause a sense of anxiety and fear. The owner or manager probably has a million thoughts running through their mind, including how project deadlines will be met, and how they’ll juggle other time-off requests that may come in for the same time.
Along with the issues of meeting business demand, and fairly scheduling time-off, employers, and managers also have to think about reducing potential employee conflict if one person’s vacation is approved and another’s isn’t.
A leave tracker or attendance management system is one of the most streamlined and efficient ways to manage requests for employee time off, but we’ll go into more details about how time-off requests can be handled in the best way possible.
Why Is Time Off Important for the Business?
Before thinking about implementing the use of a leave tracker or vacation tracker system, a lot of business owners and managers need to let go of their ideas that an employee taking their allotted time off is a disaster.
There’s this sense that even though vacation time is offered by most companies, somehow it’s still not okay to use it. Employees feel this, and they ultimately end up not taking vacation time, even when it’s technically available. The company handbook might say they have vacation time, but the culture can say otherwise. That’s why some employers have started doing mandatory vacation policies, where employees are required to take a certain amount of time off each year.
Otherwise, when employees aren’t taking vacations it’s not detrimental to their well-being—it can harm the business as well. There is a business case for employees taking time off because it helps them return more productive, recharged, more engaged and often more innovative. Part of any successful talent management strategy should involve making sure employees are maintaining a sense of work-life balance because it affects the bottom line of the business.
Cross-Training for Employee Time-Off
You might still be thinking that work-life balance is important, but how is the work covered when the person is away? One way a lot of businesses handle this is by cross-training employees. Cross-training employees is good not only when someone is away on vacation. It can also make for a stronger organization because employees feel more empowered to step outside of the confines of their own job role, and that can bring about innovation in and of itself.
Sometimes when employees have to step in and fill the shoes of an employee who’s on vacation, it can be beneficial in their own career as well. For example, they may take on more of a leadership role during that time, and it can help with succession planning and creating an internal talent pipeline.
Modern employers tend to have a tough time promoting employee loyalty, as well. Employees in the modern age are notorious job jumpers, and employers have to do more to hold onto their top talent. One way to do this is by cultivating a culture that shows you value your employees’ time off and their quality of life.
The Benefits of a Leave Tracker
Once you’re a business owner or manager who has made it your mission to see the value of vacations, what do you do when there are conflicts?
For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of summer, and you have two key people who have submitted vacation requests. You can do without one, but not both at least not at the same time. How do you handle this fairly, and efficiently? Even with a leave tracker or vacation tracker, it’s important to have specific rules and guidelines in place. This can reduce your scheduling headaches, and can make things fairer for everyone, reducing resentment among employees.
Setting Up a Leave Tracker
First, set a deadline for leave requests. You can set up your leave tracker so that there are certain deadline guidelines built into the system. You’ll want to make deadlines that not only speak to how far out a person must request time off but on the opposite end of the spectrum, you also want to create a window so that people aren’t requesting time off too far in advance during peak times.
For example, if you don’t have timeframe guidelines in place in your leave tracker for when employees can request time off, they can go in a year in advance and request their time off, sometimes even before other employees even work at the business.
Another way to improve the fairness of how you approve leave requests is to let your leave tracker do the decision-making for you. Set up automated rules for how and when approvals will be issued. Your employees should be able to log into the system, submit their requests and based on how you’ve set up the system, they should be able to see if they were approved. This level of self-service and visibility can help employees feel like the process if fairer, and it’s also faster and more efficient for you.
When you’re setting up the parameters that will be used in your leave tracker or attendance management system, you can go a few different routes. The first come first serve option is about as simple as it comes.
Another way you might set up your leave tracker to determine approvals is seniority. Of course, there may be times where you need to override standard practices and leave it up to your own discretion, for example, if you’re concerned about someone taking off during a peak time. In this case, it’s up to you to speak to the employees and let them know why a decision has been made. As an example, if it’s organization need, you need to let the employee whose request isn’t being approved and why, and it should be for a good reason otherwise you’re going to have a frustrated employee on your hands.
Finally, if you have a business where employees have to work on holidays, such as a restaurant, a medical practice, or certain types of retail businesses, you might set your leave tracker up to automatically rotate holiday time off.
Managing employee time-off requests fairly and efficiently can be a challenge, and ultimately the best way to do it is with the use of a leave tracker.