Skip Out on the Chaos with Automated Employee Leave Requests

Neil Miller

February 1st, 2016 HR Process  

Mark, your friendly neighborhood software engineer, finally made an appointment at the dentist for that toothache that has been bothering him for weeks. But the earliest he could schedule it was three weeks away. On Wednesday, he sends an email to his manager, Rachel, asking for the morning off. The following day, Rachel digs up the approval request email template and sends it to Rick, Mark’s team lead for his current project. Rick is busy and has 8,000 unread emails in his inbox and only gets around to approving it the next Monday, which gets forwarded to Mark and the HR team.

On Tuesday, the dentist office calls Mark and tells him they have an opening this Friday, and Mark takes it up. He sends another email to Rachel who asks HR to delete his previous leave and sends the same email template to Rick asking for approval. Sleep­deprived Rick thinks he is experiencing deja vu when the new request comes and starts to wonder if Mark is the tall one or the bald one. Wait, are there two Marks? He replies to the email with “OK”.

On Friday, Rick shoots an email to his team asking where Mark is. No one knows. He sends a text message to Mark, asking where he is. “At the dentist”, comes the reply. Rick sends a terse email off to Rachel saying that he informed all functional managers last week to not grant leave on Friday due to an important client presentation. “I never got that one,” says Rachel. Meanwhile, Novocain­filled Mark is in the recovery room, trying to communicate with his development team through a series of grunts.

If you are keeping track at home, that’s at least thirteen emails with four mail trails, all for one day of leave. Chaos personified. And there is a roughly 0% chance that Mark’s leave records will be correct when he tries to check in a with HR few months later to know if he has enough time to take his kid to the doctor.

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Employee Leave Requests Aren’t as Simple as They Seem

Employee Leave requests sound like a simple thing, but small changes can lead to severe confusion. Manufacturing workers who get paid by the hour want to be very specific about how much leave they need. Large multinationals with complex leave policies might require several approvals from functional and project heads. Companies that use remote workers may not care as much about how many hours an employee takes off as much as they need to make sure everyone is in the loop when someone is unavailable.

Tracking is also a challenge whether HR teams are using a simple spreadsheet or highly sophisticated software. Keeping tabs on email threads to calculate leave is time consuming and prone to human error. When you add paper leave application forms, timesheets, and half­-day requests into this mix, you have a recipe for chaos.

Finally, if you do leave requests manually, you know that pulling up how many days of leave remaining someone has at any time is a minefield. Employees will pull out calendars, emails, and receipts to prove where they were on a given day and you are stuck with not being sure where the error occurred.

Automation to the Rescue

Automating the leave management process not only creates a standard, streamlined path, it can also clear the confusion and help in tracking and auditing. Ad­-hoc reports can be generated simply with all the relevant documentation. Dates can be blacklisted permanently or temporarily.

Here’s what a very basic employee leave request might look like as a workflow:

KiSFLOW Process Step - 1

This workflow can be completed in just a few hours and ends with the employee getting a clear record of their approved leave without complex email threads. You can also expand it to be split between functional and project managers.

 

Pro Tips

If you want to take your automated employee leave request workflow to the next level, here are a couple ideas from our experts:

Use Date Ranges

Many electronic forms overlook the need for applying for multiple date ranges. If you are taking a Thursday/Friday and a Monday/Tuesday off, you only want it to count as four days, not six, and you want to do it on the same form.

Here’s a sample form that shows what it can look like in KiSSFLOW:

Kissflow Step - 2

Note that you can also enable the form to calculate half days as well.

Enforce a Handover Document Policy

If someone’s on a beach in the Bahamas, they probably aren’t going to respond to your urgent email requesting the sales reports for the last quarter. When someone applies for leave, you can require a handover document to be attached that keeps everyone in the loop and everyone knows where to find it.

KiSSFLOW Process Step - 3

Manage Leave Balances

You can even manage all of your PTO from within KiSSFLOW using Master lists. Check this out:

Keep Leave Requests Smart and Simple

Automating your leave requests Using KiSSFLOW’s leave management system is a smart way to make sure your business continues to run smoothly. Automation means less confusion, less emails, and better record­keeping. Ditch your paper forms and give our our time-off management software a try today!

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