It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” but juggling the demands of leave, sickness, and attendance can spoil the party. Effective leave management software that handles it all could be the perfect gift.

The festive season usually sees managers and HR teams inundated with requests for annual leave. This can become a serious administrative burden. Many teams may still rely at least partly on spreadsheets or individual reporting to line managers.

Sometimes a business is fortunate enough to be able to manage employee numbers easily over the holidays, perhaps because their workload scales down. But some sectors — retail or hospitality, for example (to say nothing of polar toy manufacturing operations) – rely on the contributions of their teams especially at this time of year. Managing resources while being sensitive to employee needs can is a real and recurring challenge.

Sensitivity is key here, because managing leave can have a major impact on employee engagement. The obvious issue — that denying leave can upset people — is important, but perhaps not number one on the list. A recent Glassdoor study found that as many as 40% of UK employees took just half of their annual leave entitlement in a calendar year. 13% admitted to taking 20% of their leave or less.

This ‘nose-to-the-grindstone’ approach is worrisome news for employers, as well as for employees. Overworked people don’t perform at their best, while time off can lift performance and attendance. In fact, research shows that using annual leave can boost productivity by 40% and reduce sick leave by 28%. The grindstone, it seems, is a false economy.

The cost of getting leave management wrong

But it’s worth coming back to engagement . Denying leave will frustrate people and chip away at engagement. Rampant unplanned absence does the same by placing unfair burdens on the managers and employees who are left to deal with the consequences. Then there’s simply the danger of making mistakes: miscalculating who is owed how much leave and by when.

If you think that couldn’t happen to a large-scale employer in the modern economy, think again. In 2017, a low-fares airline was forced to cancel hundreds of flights, costing it millions in revenue, after admitting it was down to “messing up” planning of pilots’ holidays.

You can, however, choose to approach the same problem from a different direction. Businesses which deal with staff in the thousands or tens of thousands have to put structures in place to make allowance for unplanned absence. Inevitably, this comes with a monetary cost. At a time like Christmas, when many sectors need to deliver serious revenue, the problem is even more acute.

When making allowances for unplanned employee absence by over-staffing or over-scheduling – as 88% of retailers worldwide do – you react to the problem rather than correcting it. This reactive nature creates unnecessary work for managers and poses a risk to customer satisfaction. Best practice suggests retailers leverage advanced scheduling software to improve labour forecasting… giving them more say over when and how often they work.”

Pauline Bennett, Retail Labour and Planning Manager, Sainsbury’s

Give resilience and clarity with Zellis

In light of these potential pitfalls, centralising and automating your leave management is essential. The Zellis leave management software streamlines this entire process from start to finish, giving managers and employees an intuitive way to request and approve leave. Employees can access the tool from any device, letting them take more control of their work-life balance and plan their work seamlessly.

The dashboard screen shows, at a glance, a summary of their available leave; their recent requests; and their upcoming leave dates. Managers will find their admin burden reduced to just a couple of clicks, and also have the ability to delegate leave management responsibilities to team members if necessary. Perhaps most importantly, the Team Leave Calendar gives line managers and leaders a comprehensive view of who is on leave and when. Tasks can be managed with efficiency and clarity. When managers are asked to approve leave, they can be absolutely sure that they’re making an informed decision.

New Year’s Resolution: ditch the manual processes

Even the most organised HR professional would struggle to manage leave effectively within large-scale teams. The organisation needs leave management to show a clear strategy, excellent forward planning, and the ability to react quickly. An advanced leave management solution makes all this incredibly simple. Insights, management, and requests are all handled instantly and intuitively. It’s the most cost-effective way to ensure that this business-critical component of your workforce management is always under your control. 

Learn more about our leave management software and people management solutions.