Everyone deserves a vacation and some well-earned time off, especially your hardworking employees. But, while providing them with paid time off (PTO) as part of their compensation is a no-brainer, tracking it all can cause you a major headache.
Tracking isn't limited to who's at work today and who will be out tomorrow, either. Employers also need to monitor how much time employees are using to ensure that it matches company vacation policies.
While time off allotments vary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees at private businesses average 10 days off per year after a year of employment, while those at the company for five years receive 15 paid days. On the other end of that spectrum are companies like software company G2, which offers unlimited PTO.
No matter how much time your firm offers for vacations and other paid time off, you will need tools that include a time off request form to make sure you don't have problems—or worse, chaos. Here's how some companies are doing it.
What is on a time off request form?
Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of human resources site Workology, recommends using a form that asks for the:
- Employee's name
- Employee number, if applicable
- Dates requested
- Time off type (PTO, floating holiday, vacation, etc.)
- Date they're submitting the form
The form also should include a place to indicate approval or denial, such as a line for a manager's signature on paper forms, or an approved/denied note for digital forms.
Some companies use paper forms, while others ask employees to use an online template to create a time off request form. G2 uses a Google form for time off requests. After the employee completes and submits the form, the system automatically notifies the staffer's manager, who will approve or deny the request. Chanty, a company offering an online team communication tool, uses online form builder Jotform.
Use technology to help manage the process
While smaller companies may be able to manage time off requests by recording them on a time off calendar, others need a more sophisticated process.
Miller-Merrell advises using a human resources information system, or HRIS, to both create forms and monitor requests. "[The HRIS] provides employees with a way to understand and manage their own time off available, instead of relying on managers and HR team members to provide them with updates," she says.
Auto insurance finder Carsurance.com uses the Vacation Tracker app designed for team collaboration tool Slack. "The information can be pulled as a team's vacation calendar, or individually for each employee. Also, you can preset the holidays, and limit the number of days allowed off," says Carsurance.com co-founder Tony Arevalo.
Track employee time off
Even at companies like G2 that offer unlimited PTO, managers still need to monitor vacation days.
"We have to establish a time off procedure to make sure we have the resources and team members dedicated to covering the tasks that will be dropped when others are out of office," says Levi Olmstead, G2's SEO and community outreach manager. "The time off request form allows us to set a guideline for how early team members need to request time off, so we can make sure we are prepared in advance for covering those tasks."
Entrepreneur Phil Norton believes this is so important that he created a business to help. His Leave Dates software automates requests and approvals while tracking each employee's remaining time off, so there's no confusion or errors.
"I started this business because I used to manage this manually for a team of software developers. Keep tracking of it was so time-consuming, and we kept finding people off work unexpectedly, or at the same time," Norton says.
Regardless of the approach you use, creating a standard time off request form for all employees will help make sure that time off will be relaxing for everyone involved—even those who are still working that week.
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