Managing leave can be a major headache. At specific points of the year, particularly around the Christmas period and school holidays, HR can find themselves inundated with multiple leave requests. If organisations process these requests incorrectly too many members of staff may be allowed to be absent simultaneously. Get it wrong, and there’s also the likelihood of irritating teams and promoting distrust towards the HR department.

So how can leave be managed effectively? What steps can organisations follow to minimise the workload and process leave accurately and efficiently? This article provides an overview of leave management and several suggestions for improving this HR process.

What is leave management?

Managing leave requires the recording, approving and monitoring of staff leave. There are many types of leave to contend with: paid leave includes annual leave, parental leave and TOIL. Unpaid leave covers sickness and sabbaticals. As all employees will accrue and request leave throughout their contract, managing it well is an essential HR activity that can be very time consuming if not done correctly.

The impact of Absenteeism

We cannot talk about improving leave management without discussing absenteeism. Absenteeism, the practice or regularly staying away from work without good reason, is hugely detrimental to the organisation, even if the staff member is only off work for one day. Research suggests that in the absence of effective leave management, organisations often underestimate the number of days their staff are off sick. Indirect costs of absence include operational disruption, lower morale, increased stress for the team and greater employee turnover.

Tips for Improving Leave Management

  • Introduce a clear leave policy and make it mandatory reading. Doing so will go a long way to ensuring that staff know the number of days they are entitled to take, how many days they can carry over, and what to do if they are off sick. Having this format in place will make organising requests a little bit easier because the data will be more accurate from the start and aligned with company policymake it mandatory reading.
  • Offer incentives to minimise leave clash. If your organisation is unable to close over popular holidays, try offering incentives to encourage staff to work over this period. For example, if staff are required to be in the office between Christmas and New Year, you could offer an additional day’s leave to be taken later in the year at a less busy time.

  • Automate leave management via a self-service portal. If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage leave, consider switching to an online leave management system. Using an online system will help reduce the admin burden on HR as it allows employees to create their own leave requests, and for their managers to approve without a long trail of emails back and forth. All requests and approvals are recorded within the system, with leave entitlement calculations updated automatically.

Automate Leave Management in Minutes

CiviHR offers a cloud-based leave management feature to help organisations process and track leave requests. Staff can submit their requests via the self-service portal and view their remaining balance and leave entitlements. HR users can easily monitor employee time off through this feature, approve requests, check for any leave clash, and report on absence over a given period.

Try out leave management for yourself today on our demo site. You’ll find instructions on using the leave module here.