3 Ways to Better Manage Time Off Requests

For the human resources department, few things are more challenging than managing time off requests. The larger your organization, the more complicated it can be to keep track of who is taking time off when, as well as how much paid vacation each employee has already used. Without proper oversight, employee absenteeism can result in lost profits for your company. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Here are a few key practices that will improve the efficiency of time off request management.

1.        Keep Track of Requests With Specialized Software

To eliminate errors, try an absence management software. These specialized software programs are far more efficient than a standard spreadsheet, providing a robust calendaring system that shows when employees have requested sick or parental leave, vacations, overtime, or even work-from-home hours.

By keeping track of each employee in a single database, it becomes much easier for the HR team to keep track of how much vacation time each employee has left. It also makes it easier to avoid scheduling overlapping absences so the office as a whole can be more productive.

2.        Have a Consistent Process For Submitting Requests

Many companies struggle because they have multiple methods for submitting time off requests. To avoid confusion, your company should use a single platform for time off requests. Be it via email or a paper form, choose a system that works well for both HR and the employees submitting for time off. Don’t approve informal requests, as these can all too easily be forgotten about or improperly recorded.

3.        Set Clear Policies For Time Off Requests

All companies should have clear policies that are consistently applied so that everyone feels they are treated fairly. Time off policies should cover issues such as select periods when employees cannot request vacation days, how much lead time is required to approve a time off request, how frequently an employee can request time off, and how requests will be prioritized when they overlap.

If you fail to clearly communicate or consistently apply these guidelines, you will likely foster resentment and confusion among employees. Consider including a summary of your policies on the time off request form to avoid such problems.


The saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is still applicable in today’s work environment. You need to respect employee well-being and allow them to take time off when needed. However, you can’t let miscommunications and inefficiencies let others take advantage of the system. As you implement these steps, you will improve transparency and efficiency so that time off requests are no longer an HR headache.

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