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Tips for Better Annual Leave Management

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An image of a huge paper calendar and one employee is sitting in front of it holding a pen

Work-life balance is now more relevant than ever. With mental health and wellness on the line, employees have to take time off every now and then to maintain efficiency. Apart from doing the obvious which is reducing the stress level in employees, leaves boost morale.

There are a bunch of mental and physical benefits linked to annual leaves so it’s pivotal for a company to make sure the employees are using up their quota.

HR managers often struggle with keeping track of yearly leave, especially since there are different leave cases complicating the process. Stress leave, sick leave, parental leave are some of the many options. Finding a system that allows easy monitoring of employee availability within the business is key.

Manual record-keeping is time-consuming and expensive. Consider utilizing a smart leave management system to keep digitized data. Collecting data from a leave tracker at the end of the year is much easier. Assume Day off app as an example. The employee leave tracker app lets HR admins keep account of employee availability, balance, and much more.

What is Annual Leave?

Before we get onto annual leave management tips, let’s be better acquainted with the concept of annual leave. It’s basically paid time off work employees get. They can use it for whatever purpose they wish.

Now, this raises an important question: “Are part-time employees and full-time employees entitled to an equal number of leaves?”

How Employee Leave Is Paid

The rate for time-off payment for an employee is the same as their normal regular wage. Based on the country, part-time workers are given 4 week’s vacation. But, this isn’t a set standard; it’s not in the USA. Typically, casual workers don’t get any vacation entitlement. Instead, they get a compensatory amount to make up for the annual leave payment.

Are Employees Entitled to Time-Off?

There is no state or deferral statutory minimum paid public holiday or public vacation. The employer decides whether they want to grant paid leaves or not. Some companies do, some don’t. Needless to say, the former is definitely more liked by the workforce. 

The average count of paid leave days granted by private employers is ten days after a year of service, two weeks after five years, 17 days after ten years, and 20 days after 20 years. In comparison to paid leaves in Europe, the numbers are quite shocking for the USA.

Statistics suggest that the United States has many of the most toxic work environments in the world. 

Neighboring nation Canada gives employees at least a week or two of paid leaves per year. In Australia, full-time employees are entitled to 20 annual accrued days. 

Reasons Annual Leave Management Can be an HR Nightmare

By its very nature, annual leave management is challenging for small to medium businesses. It doesn’t matter if they manage small teams.

According to the process, someone from the team has to review the remaining leave days and balances. Based on that, they must decide whether to approve leave requests or not.

Just one decision made by a single entity can turn the entire business cycle upside down if the holiday requests overlap with each other. Besides, manually keeping accounts and updating those every time there’s a request is too lengthy to be effective. This is where a good PTO tracking software can be a true savior.

The Issue with Annual Leave Management

Many companies still rely on the conventional excel staff leave planner to conduct annual leave management. A few more orthodox businesses will use on-the-wall calendars too. However, these methods have proven to be both ineffective and error-prone in the long run.

Wall calendars quickly become overwhelming and the seemingly never-ending amount of post-its doesn’t help. Plus, they don’t track disposable leaves or the balance.

You might now ask, “What about excel leave planners?” Surely those are better at tracking employee absences but they can still be prone to error. One incorrect formula is all it takes for the whole spreadsheet to be full of mistakes. 

Most employees will request absences by email, paper forms, or even just inform the manager physically without any official documentation. 77% of employees hope to get routine tasks like requesting leaves done easier, making it increasingly important to find and establish an effective annual leave management system.

Tips to Form the Best Annual Leave Management

A leave management software such as a vacation tracker or PTO tracker combined with a bit of human intervention is what you a company needs to make annual leave management most convenient. Here are some tips to keep you at the top of the game.

·       Create a Fool-Proof Annual Leave Policy

The first step to making an effective annual leave plan is creating a clear policy that is easily accessible to the staff. The policy should outline what’s permissible while the administration makes sure the management and staff is all aligned.

When employees are sure about what’s expected of them and how to do it, they are more likely to stick to the best practices.

Ask yourself what would be in the best interest of your business. If you’re expecting a rush period at any time of the year, it’s best to not grant leaves during that time unless emergency absences are requested. 

Once your policy is fixed, share it with the staff. Upload everything on a shared drive so any concerned can access it at any time. Make sure it’s included in the onboarding process.

·       Communicate the Policy through Training

Only when everyone is aware of the policies can the annual leave management policies be successful. Set expectations and communicate those properly.

Let new hires know that getting leaves during peak periods could be hard. Encourage them to inform HR of their holiday plans in advance so you can stick to the annual leave management goals.

·       Make Leave Transparent

HR departments and managers can be rather squirrely with annual leave trackers. Closed documents, secret files, and whatnot – but this isn’t the wisest decision.

Make leaves visible so your employees can see who is available and who isn’t. The process shouldn’t be too long neither should it too short to the point that it doesn’t include necessary information.

Monthly emails are a good way to do this but you can try investing in a vacation tracker for best results. Day Off is a free time off tracker with a great pro version for the affordable rate of a dollar per employee for a month.

Employees can check out how many leave days they have and send in requests from the mobile app. It will be redirected to the right person.

·       Streamline the System

Can your staff apply for annual leave easily? A common reason why the staff chooses to wait till the end of the year to apply for leave is that requesting one day off is too time-consuming and complicated. Set up a new system or streamline the existing one – make it easy to use and simple. 

The request forms can be made available online so employees do not have to bother HR for it. Alternatively, a rota-planning software such as Day Off will allow staff to directly send leave requests to the manager via the app.

Whichever option is selected, be transparent about it and make sure all the staff knows.

·       Start the Annual Leave Policy from Autumn

Employees tend to lose track of their early leave and then try to avail of whatever is left at the end of the year. This could coincide with a peak pre-Christmas period when more than half of the office is away.

Try to start the annual leave policy in autumn. That being said, it’s natural to deal with many requests for leave during Christmas, but hopefully, it won’t be a case of employees desperately trying to get time off to empty out the last of their leave allowance. 

In addition, when you start the annual leave sometime during September, employees are already thinking about Christmas leave. Therefore, they’re more likely to inform in advance.

·       Encourage Vacation Planning Well in Advance

Depending on the industry you’re in, the timeframe to plan holidays will vary. For example, employees are asked to plan their vacations for the coming year in the manufacturing sector. In healthcare, medical professionals are expected to plan 3 to 5 months in advance. 

Some employees can feel burned by the thought of planning for an entire year from that early on. Encourage them to inform you four to five weeks before their leave so you can adjust operations better. But at the same time, try to remain flexible.

The Perfect Digital Solution

Day Off is the perfect employee time off tracker that’s both affordable and effective. A digital approach to HR management issues like annual leave will help the administration to free up more time to focus on other important topics. This is why you should use the free vacation tracker:

  • Make a company profile and customize it.
  • Employees can make leave requests on any device from anywhere. It will be directed to the assigned person for super-fast processing.
  • Send email notifications to the whole team from one place. Define leaves and allowances for those leaves. Vacation, PTO, time-off, or make something of your own. Assign employees to the set policy and maintain vacation accruals.
  • Enjoy auto-updated leave balances free of error. The remaining absence balances of employees can be checked from a single source. 
  • HE dashboard provides a clear overview for leave applications, possible overlapping with public holidays as well as other leave appeals.
  • See the consolidated calendar showing the entire business’ annual leave. Employees can synchronize it with their calendars.
  • A centralized overview of yearly data provides information to make correct decisions based on employee behaviors and trends. Know when employees’ are becoming unavailable the most and try to adjust workload according to that.
  • Say bye-bye to paper records. You can now save your storage space and save annual leave management data in a digital, clutter-free zone. 
  • Create sub-teams and define leaves for each member.

Employees can send requests from the Day Off app from their mobile on the go. Any sort of unforeseen emergency calls for instant information.

What to Know Before Granting Holiday Requests

You, as an employer and manager, must be aware of a few important things before granting a vacation request to your employee.

A business usually has adequate resources to fill up the absence of the employee in a way that productivity isn’t harmed. An employer and employee should discuss and mutually decide on leave.

HR has to make sure not too many employees are on holiday simultaneously and/or there aren’t many conflicting requests.

You can always go for the “first come first served” approach when sorting through leave requests, but a better, more efficient system would do much for the company. Poor annual leave management decreases employee satisfaction and raises the chance of employee turnover.

Unused Annual Leave

While it’s good for employees to get off work once in a while, not everyone needs the break sometimes. There are the typical workaholics who are too dedicated to the task. Or employees just couldn’t on break because the company was short-staffed during ta particular periods.

Employees at the end of the year are often concerned about what happens to their unused accrued days. Do they lose that or can they roll those over into the next time?

Usually, companies don’t allow the leaves from the previous year to be rolled out into the next. You should outline that clearly in the policy so the managers and employees can refer to it on the online employee portal.

Bottom Line

Employees who are constantly working experience quicker burnout, lower productivity, workplace illness, stress, and more. Absence leave management is a crucial function of HR. A time off app will help keep records of annual leave better than manual processing.