Leave management, simply put, covers all areas of an employee’s leaves. This includes sick/wellness leaves, personal leaves, vacations, and so on. Leave management may seem straightforward: you tell your boss you want a day off someday, and you get it or not!
However, things start getting more complicated as the company grows bigger. Manually keeping track of who’s where becomes harder. Absenteeism can go unnoticed, payments may get deducted by mistake, and projects could get stalled. All of these have a domino effect, and that’s why leave management gains importance.
How important is leave management?
Leave management is important from two perspectives:
From the company’s perspective, managing leaves is important to get things done. Let’s say in your company, 70% of the Tech team has to be present if the systems have to run smoothly. However, more than 30% have decided to go on vacation at the same time next month. While vacation is their legal right, all of them gone at the same time would mean heavy losses for the firm. Obviously, manually tracking each leave request from various Tech teams is not going to be easy! A leave management system can do it for you instead.
For an employee, leave management helps keep a healthy work-life balance. Suppose the company doesn’t have a good leave-tracking system in place; things would be chaotic. The employee would have a blurry idea of their leaves, and their manager would probably not remember their reportees’ leaves at all!
For the employee, a leave may be important for many reasons—a culture-specific festival, bereavement, illness, illness of a family member, and so on. All these situations can be accounted for only when there’s a well-designed leave management system.
Both perspectives, of the company and the employee, can have a direct or indirect impact on your revenues. And that’s why leave management should be taken seriously.
Challenges with leave management
Let’s look at some of the most common challenges leave management faces.
1. “Where is everybody?”
As pointed out briefly in the previous section, a lack of proper leave management could lead to a situation where many members of a team are missing. While approving these leaves, the manager or HR may not have realized its impact, and now, it’s just too late.
This becomes especially difficult during high-pressure periods, for instance, during a product release. At a time like this, a manager can stick to only approving emergency leaves such as bereavement or wellness. This becomes easier when there’s a system in place.
A company that pays attention to its leave management can plan for such scenarios better. A leave management system will ensure well-designed leave policies, approval processes, conditions for how many people from a team can be on leave at the same time, and so on.
2. “I never take leaves.”
There’s always that one person – and that may even be good from a company’s perspective. However, things start getting murky when other people in the team start feeling bad about taking their leaves too. While it may seem great in the short run, it’s definitely not good for team morale and dynamics in the long run. Consequently, you may have teammates who are overworked.
Overworking could kill productivity and creativity, thereby, actually doing more harm to business revenue than good. This problem is especially true in firms where there’s no proper leave management in place.
When there’s a system to track leaves, everyone knows clearly what they’re entitled to. Managers can also direct employees who don’t take leaves to do so because they’d have a clear picture of how many off days have been accrued. It will have the following effects:
- The computation of final settlement in cases of separations gets simpler, and the cost to the company will be reduced.
- Everyone on the team will get an equal footing for growth.
- To be present doesn’t necessarily mean to be productive – and this can be conveyed easily during appraisals.
3. “This day is very important for me.”
We live in a very diverse society, and the workplace today reflects this. We work across boundaries, time zones, and cultures. As such, choosing a common set of holidays for all employees can become very difficult.
For example, you may have one employee who celebrates a festival that nobody else on the team does. Would it be justified to not let them have that day off without deducting their personal leaves? This is a challenge that shouldn’t be left unaddressed, especially in an era where global boundaries are blurring more and more.
Companies that have good leave management practices in place keep a tab of all such possible holidays and offer them as optional holidays to the employees. An automated system can help you plan your holiday calendar well in advance taking all leaves into consideration with minimal effort.
4. “My vehicle brokedown (again).”
This is an example of a very classic problem faced by companies worldwide: absenteeism. And frankly, it’s quite easy to get away with it too if no system is tracking these leaves. An employee may give the same silly excuses over and over again because they know their manager or the HR team won’t remember.
This is a big challenge for any company in general that’s consistently growing in size and is looking out to expand its operations in the coming years. There’s simply no way every employee’s happenings can be recorded!
5. “I worked for 30 days in February!”
Similar to the previous point, you have situations where employees insist they’ve worked for more days than they actually have. If the company’s leave management isn’t accurate enough, it’ll be very difficult to track records of leave applications, whether by email, Whatsapp, or in person.
But that’s not all. Companies dealing with leave management challenges often don’t have their leave calendars and payroll systems synced. And consequently, an avalanche of miscalculations follows.
There are multiple outcomes to this problem.
- You may end up deducting the salary of someone who’s actually worked on all the days they said they did.
- You may pay an employee extra for a day they were supposed to go on a loss of pay.
- Leave balances on paper may vary from what they actually should be in reality.
- Legal complications may arise due to improper leave records.
6. “I don’t see your leave application.”
Leaves applied on improper channels of communication may lead to the manager simply ignoring your application or just not knowing about it.
Suppose an employee applies for leave on WhatsApp and then, by mistake, loses all their chats. Now, in case someone questions them about it, they won’t have anything to show. This can kick-start a saga of never-ending embarrassing conversations based on pure assumptions.
The same situation can work in favor of the employee as well. Suppose they argue that the manager approved the leave before the chat got erased; it’ll be hard to prove anything. Naturally, the company can’t go on the assumption that the employee is lying and will have to handle the situation very tactfully. Irrespective of how it was taken care of, the fact is, this is not an ideal scenario at all. Any company would rather avoid it altogether!
7. “Wow, here’s another record to enter.”
Probably the biggest challenge to leave management is record-keeping. Even if your firm has only 100 employees, keeping track of their leaves and holidays can still be a grueling task. We’re talking holidays, sick leaves, casual leaves, and vacations. Noting down how many days of which categories have been used up by which employee is simply too tedious.
But it doesn’t end there. After speaking with the manager again, or based on certain developments in the workload, the employee may change the dates or cancel the leaves altogether. Either way, the whole process has to be repeated once more – and quickly too! Because with each day, the HR team gets closer to the date of salary processing. And once the cut-off date for processing salaries is passed, there’s little that can be done.
Whenever there’s a new entry or request to change an existing entry, the HR professional has to pause everything else they’re doing to process the new input. This can lead to frustration and mental fatigue.
8. “I can’t say NO.”
We hear people say this a lot of times. It’s especially hard when you’re handling a team of your own. Suppose you have a really good team member – A – who’s always prompt with their deliverables and consistent with the quality. However, they’re constantly taking leave every alternate week. Now, their leaves don’t seem to be affecting their output in any way. But the teammates notice the constant absenteeism and start doing the same thing.
At this point, you have two choices: either you can tell them that A is better than all of them, and so has special privileges, or you let them take as many leaves as they want to.
As you would’ve imagined, you’re on the losing side in both cases.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be super-assertive all the time and simply say “No!”. It’s easier said than done. Besides, it may come across as rude and offensive and may push teammates away.
Now, on one hand, you have people taking too many leaves, while on the other, you run the risk of making your teammates leave. Either way, you face a challenge managing leaves because finding the correct balance to manage both sides is not always easy.
9. Automation to the rescue!
Well, you guessed it – the answer to better leave management is automation. It’s start of a new year, and there’s no reason why you should wait and be doing so much heavy lifting just to track leaves!
Get an automated leave management system. Let it track employee leaves, holidays, changes in leave dates, approval follow-ups, and finally, salary computation for you. These are data points that the employees can enter without having to ‘cc’ a whole list of people on email. Managers find it easy to track requests, get notified about pending approvals, and know the team’s strength on any given day at one glance.
Besides, automated leave management systems can be integrated with payroll software easily. That means zero computation errors and zero complaints.
Well, it’s that part of the blog where we say goodbye until our next post. To summarise this post quickly: we saw what challenges companies face today regarding leave management. Then, we discussed how automated leave management software can come to the rescue. If you can think of more challenges related to leave management, we’d love to hear from you. Or, if you’re looking for someone to help you overcome the challenges we’ve mentioned above (and more), we’d be glad to have a chat.