According to a Glassdoor study, employees aren’t using their vacation time in its entirety. They are afraid of falling behind in their work commitments. Here it is not employees’ fault, as they are afraid of losing out on valuable time. Their company is to blame as well.
If a company understands the importance of time-off for employees, it should take the efforts to draw policies that actually support them in such cases. As opposed to enforcing rigid guidelines where individuals are afraid or unsure of whether they should take a leave.
We keep coming back to Google as an example. No wonder it ranks so high on most lists about ‘most preferable companies to work for’.
At Google, employees can start off with three weeks of paid time off. Further they can work their way up to five weeks if they stay with the company for five years. They also report they can take up to three months of unpaid sabbatical. (Source)
Leave management is an important HR activity that takes care of employee leave applications. Based on available leave balance, company leave policies and manager’s discretion, leaves are either granted or denied in an objective manner. If the leave policy is not drafted carefully, there are bound to be many challenges.
Typical leave management challenges:
- Employee dissatisfaction
- Affects employee performance
- Payroll errors
- Hampers productivity
- Lack of transparency
- Legal challenges
How to develop an efficient leave management policy
Craft and document standard policies:
Leave policies help you clearly define a set of rules and procedures to follow, when it comes to tracking time taken off work. As such, policies may differ slightly across various regions and their laws. Also, same set of rules may not apply for part-time and contractual employees.
A documented policy that is uniform for a group of employees ensures there is very little scope for bias. These groups should be based on a transparent criteria. If there are any discrepancies despite formal documentation and communication, then HR personnel can promptly take appropriate decision/action.
Ideally, the policy should also talk about maintaining a healthy work life balance. Employees should not shy away or be afraid of taking leaves when they want to take a break. Being overworked and stressed leads to a burnout that could be difficult to recover from. Prevent burnout before it becomes an issue by encouraging employees to take leaves as and when they desire.
Automation of leave management:
First, companies need to end the use of spreadsheets for managing time off. It is one of the most common reasons errors occur while managing leaves. Simply forgetting to document a leave or adding one when it was not taken can become a mess at the time of year end closing.
The first one leads to errors in payroll. The next one may be more harmful as it can leave employees feeling disgruntled. In the long term, both affect the company one way or the other.
In this day and age, when you have advanced technology at your fingertips, it is time to let go of near-obsolete methods. Start automating your leave management process so that there are no errors, minimal efforts are required and there is higher efficiency.
Leverage a robust leave management tool:
Drafting an efficient leave policy is only the first step. You also need to adopt a tool or software that can seamlessly adopt these policies and implement them efficiently.
Here, you can see how Employee Garrison (our leave management tool that works in Jira) can help employees quickly view their balance and apply for leaves. If anyone wants to apply leaves around holidays, that information is visible as well.
Source: UpRaise Employee Garrison
Real time display of information:
Employees should be given access to information about their leaves. Not only does it promote transparency but they can also take informed decisions about how they should plan their vacations.
In some cases, where there is interdependence within the team, they should also be able to check their teammates’ schedule so that there is no overlap. That way their work can continue uninterrupted without affecting delivery schedules, if any.
If all this information is available in a simple, centralized dashboard, then a lot of time can be saved as well. Employees and managers can check the status of leaves and whether they are approved, availed or rejected.
Identify engagement levels based on leave pattern:
Despite having employee friendly leave policies, there are chances that some employees may misuse the system.
For example, it is okay if employees take leaves adjoining weekends so that they get extended time off. But if someone is repeatedly taking extended weekends or attached to holidays, you can determine if they are engaged in their work by using the Bradford Formula.
According to the formula, any person that scores 500 and above is a highly disengaged employee. You can then take a decision about how best to broach the subject with that employee.
Of course, in some cases, personal commitments may be the reason behind a higher score. Thus it is recommended that managers find the root cause of the problem before taking any hasty decision.