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4 Methods to manage Employee Vacation Tracking & other PTO

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"What is the best way to register vacation?" This is a question that often comes up with those who are responsible for registering time off. It is one of those tasks that many people want to leave to someone else. Why? Because it is a complicated process that requires almost constant attention - for every single employee.

But one thing at a time. Before you start figuring out the best way to record vacation (and other time off), you need to decide what types of time off you want to offer. Paid time off (PTO) is unique to each company. Typical types of time off include holidays, public holidays, sick days and days off.

It is these time-out types that make up your time-out rules. Here you decide how much time off the employees are entitled to, rules for when the time off is to be renewed, whether the employees must accrue time or receive the balance in advance, and whether they can transfer time from one year to the next.

Once all of this is determined, you can begin managing the day-to-day tracking of vacation and PTO. This is also unique to your company, and it is worth thinking about. How you actually track vacation and other PTO can be a fine line between a time-consuming and an easy task.

4 ways to track vacation and PTO

Over the years, employers have come up with many creative ways to register vacation and other PTO. Although we all have systems that we think work best for us, it's important that we don't lock ourselves into well-known methods when there are other options that can make life much easier.

Here are some of the most common ways employers record vacation and PTO:

1. Paper

While it is true that this way of tracking PTO is becoming outdated, there are still some employers who prefer to track vacation using post-it notes on a desk or a wall calendar, a whiteboard of cork or whiteboard or a spiral notebook, to name a few.

While there's nothing wrong with these methods, manually keeping track of vacation, vacation schedules, and paid sick leave can be unnecessarily time-consuming (and easy to make mistakes and inconsistencies). Not to mention that the paper is not available unless the calendar or notebook is in the immediate vicinity, that it can become messy and time-consuming to update all the time, and not least that paper copies can be damaged or lost.

This method is best suited for small businesses (and if you are used to being organized).

2. Email

Another way to track PTO than using papers is to use email, which is easily accessible but sometimes confusing. Many employers believe, rightly, that keeping track of employees' PTO via various email threads - which provide a flawless overview of requests, dates and other extraneous details - is the way to go. After all, e-mail can be consulted anywhere and cannot easily go astray. Together with a paper calendar, this may seem manageable for a small staff, but the more employees you have, the more confusing it becomes. It would be a big step forward to have one visual overview for all employees that can be easily updated.

3. Spreadsheet

This brings us to spreadsheets. Excel or Google Sheets can be good solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. After all, if you're good with spreadsheets, you can create a PTO calendar that stores information about multiple employees. However, like the previously mentioned solutions, you may encounter drawbacks when you have more than a handful of employees.

Spreadsheets can be a real headache, especially if your company has non-traditional arrangements, such as half days off or a mix of telecommuters, part-timers and full-timers. Sometimes it is not possible to take into account your company's unique needs using a spreadsheet. It is also more common to have errors in the payroll and time off processes in manual processes such as spreadsheets (or e-mail and paper).

There may come a time when it is important to find the budget (and willingness) to invest in a proper tracking program.

4. HR software

Although the tracking methods above do not require any budget, they do require time. The hidden costs associated with these "free" tracking methods come in the form of the administrative costs of spending valuable time calculating balances and accruals and responding to inquiries. All of this can be overwhelming for HR, office administrators and managers. According to Bersin by Deloitte, companies with recently upgraded HR systems can actually save 22% of costs per employee.

There are many things to consider when looking for HR software. One of the most important things is to find out which requirements best suit the company's needs. There are many options when it comes to HR software, so it's important to have clearly defined requirements to make your search as easy as possible.

What are the benefits of using HR software to record vacation?

There are countless benefits to having the right vacation tracking software in place.

Benefits for HR managers and employers

A smoother process. When all PTO and leave requests are stored on a single platform, everything runs more smoothly. Since ensuring employee eligibility and updating leave balances are automated, you save time and effort as you don't have to worry about errors or delays.

  • Cost effective. One of the most amazing (and often unexpected) things about PTO tracking platforms is that they can provide significant savings by reducing time and money spent on manual handling and paperwork. We keep hearing about IceHrm customers who save several hours a week on leave management. It's really something to look forward to!
  • Valuable data. HR software makes it easy for HR administrators to access and share valuable information about PTO and the workforce, among other things. End of manual reporting.

Benefits for the employees

  • Practical. PTO tracking systems give employees (and managers) all the PTO information they need at their fingertips. No more emails asking about balances or mysteries surrounding the status of a request.
  • Transparency and visibility. A system that is accessible to everyone and has features like a shared leave calendar provides a transparency that email, spreadsheets and paper can never provide. Now there is an end to mysteries about who is away from the office on a given day.
  • Easy to use. It only takes a few clicks to send a time off request. No more writing the perfect email to ask for a day off. The HR software simplifies the process both for managers who must respond to a request, and for employees who submit a request.

The bottom line is that PTO tracking software is fast, easy to use, and far less frustrating for you and your employees than more manual methods. At IceHrm, tracking time off is one of our specialties. We help thousands of SMEs save time and money on holiday tracking (and other day-to-day HR tasks).

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