How to Track Vacation Time for Your Employees

Andrew Buck July 12, 2021

Tracking employees’ vacation time is a vital HR process for your business. Managing the team leave schedule properly will help you maintain adequate staffing and make sure all tasks and projects progress according to plan.

Tracking vacation time seems straightforward, but it can unravel fast if your processes are not rock solid, especially if the size of your business is expanding.

In this article, we will explore why you need to track your staff’s vacation days, how many leave days you should provide, and how to manage the leave calendar most efficiently.

Why Do You Need to Track Vacation Time for Your Employees?

As an HR manager or a business owner, one of your responsibilities is to make sure the company is always adequately staffed so that work gets done in time, and that your clients or customers are satisfied.

You also want your employees to be operating at their best, and tracking vacation days can help you meet both of these objectives.

Here are some of the reasons that efficient tracking of your employees’ vacation days – meaning how many they have taken, and how many more are available – is important.

Prevent too many vacation days

Tracking vacation days for all your employees will allow you to monitor how many days each person is taking off. 

It helps you make sure that everyone’s leave days are in alignment with your time off policy.

Tracking the company leave calendar also allows you to maintain a balanced workload and prevent situations where you end up short-staffed. 

Short-staffing can cause additional stress on your remaining team members, it can derail productivity, and delay critical tasks and projects. 

An efficient system to track and manage staff leave will help you avoid this, and give you the peace of mind to know you always have enough staff to get the job done.

Prevent employee burnout

On the other hand, you also want to make sure that your team members are taking their allotted vacation days. You don’t want them to never take days off, as this will quickly end up in a case of burnout. 

If your staff is overworked, it can affect their performance and motivation, leading to a state of exhaustion known as burnout. When an employee is burned out, you won’t get the most out of their time at work, and it may even result in the employee quitting altogether.

According to Harvard Business Review, data shows that taking some time off from work to recharge and rejuvenate results in improved performance at work. It promotes better mood and lower stress levels for employees.

As you can imagine, happy and motivated employees tend to go the extra mile at work, and they get along better with their colleagues. They contribute to a productive and harmonious environment at the workplace.

Make it easy for payroll & HR

Properly tracking vacation time will also make it easier to manage payroll, and properly pay your workers for their time worked, as well as paid time off.

Vacation days may result in a different payment for that period – such as if your PTO policy gives different rates, or the employee decided to take unpaid time off. Or, if you pay staff on the time they clock in and clock out, you may miss a payment if you don’t properly note down when they take a vacation day.

It’s also common for staff to be paid out vacation days left over at the end of their employment, or vacation days to roll over to the next period, in which case knowing how many days the employee has taken is crucial.

No one likes sorting through payroll issues, or HR problems due to confusion over vacation days taken/available. So clear it up at the time with robust vacation tracking systems.

How Much Vacation Time Should Your Staff Get?

How much vacation time each of your employees gets would depend on your company’s time off policy.

You should have a set policy that you communicate with your staff during the onboarding process. That way there’s no ambiguity when it comes to vacation days, and everyone knows what to expect. 

There are a few things you should keep in mind when establishing a leave policy for your team.

Productivity

A common mistake is thinking that more time spent at work means higher productivity. That leads to businesses keeping vacation day allowances low, in order to get employees to spend more time working.

Yet, all the evidence shows productivity is higher for employees who take regular vacations.

SHRM’s Vacation’s Impact on the Workplace report found more than three quarters of HR professionals believed that staff who took more vacation days were more productive and performed better.

Vacation days make employees happier, fresher, and more productive at work. This is why a generous vacation day allowance may be a good idea.

What are your competitors’ leave policies?

Employees, and especially high performers, are becoming increasingly more cognisant of their wellbeing and work-life balance. And vacation days tend to rank high when it comes to what employees value the most in a compensation package. 

That means, to attract and retain top talent, your vacation package needs to be competitive with other major players in your industry.

Do some research into your competitor’s time-off policies, and try to create a similar one for your business.

Local labor laws

Besides providing a competitive vacation package, you also need to make sure that you’re staying compliant with any local labor laws.

For example, regulations on paid family leave or vacation days might be different in Colorado than in California, if you’re in the USA.

Align your leave management policies with the regulations in each location where your team is based to avoid any legal issues down the road.

A sense of fairness

Another very important thing to consider is that you want your leave policy to communicate a sense of fairness to all of your team members. 

Again, you can look at how your top competitors are handling these issues and derive some ideas from them.

But you definitely want to prevent a situation where there’s a sense of favoritism when it comes to who gets time off how frequently, easily, etc., to avoid tensions in the workplace.

How to Efficiently Track Vacation Time

Let’s discuss a few things you should consider when it comes to tracking your team’s vacation time efficiently.

Vacation tracking software

You can get away with a simple email/excel/Google sheets solution when you’re running a very small team.

If you have more than 5 people in your team, then the best way to track time off is to use a vacation tracking system like Flamingo

Flamingo makes it easy for your team to request leave days, and for you to approve/deny those requests. And the whole process can be done easily within Slack, eliminating the need for spreadsheets and long email conversations about time-off requests

A clear and transparent leave approval process

Your leave management system should make the approval process transparent and easy to understand for your team members. 

Team members and HR managers should be clear on who gets how many days off, and how the leave request and approval process works. 

Here are a few things to consider:

Make leave days easy to track for your staff

Your team members should be easily able to find out how many vacation days they have left in the calendar year.

It makes it easy for them to plan for their vacations and time with their friends/family, and it reduces unnecessary stress that might affect their performance.

Encourage your employees to use their vacation days

As we mentioned before, there’s evidence to suggest that people tend to do better at work when they take some time off to reset and rejuvenate. Employees who are never taking any breaks could be heading towards burnout. 

Vacation tracking systems like Flamingo help you identify team members who aren’t using any of their vacation days so you can encourage them to take some time off every now and then. 

You can explain to them that a little time away will help them stay fresh and that in the long run, it will be beneficial to both them and the company if they are motivated and performing at their best.

Final Thoughts 

You need to track your team’s vacation days to maintain a balanced workload for your team and to make sure that you always have adequate staff to get everything done.

We recommend a leave tracking software like Flamingo that makes it simple and easy to manage your vacation calendar. 

They help you implement a leave request/approval process, and lets you and your team easily keep track of remaining vacation days. 

An efficient vacation tracking system streamlines the process for the entire team, saves time for the HR manager, and promotes better overall morale and productivity in the workplace. 

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