Excel Leave Tracker vs Leave Management Software: What’s Best For Your Business?

Andrew Buck March 29, 2022

Leave management is an underappreciated part of running a business.

As your business grows, you’ll inevitably need to hire staff. Those staff will need to take time off at some point, whether it be for a vacation, sick leave, or a host of other leave types.

That means your business needs a way to track time off. This is important for many reasons, including balancing payroll, covering the absent employee’s duties, and identifying trends related to absenteeism or burnout.

This post will look at a couple of different ways to track leave – a leave tracker spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets, and a purpose-built leave management software tool – and explain which is the best for your business.

Further Reading: Do’s and Don’ts of Setting Up an Absence Tracking System for Your Business

Benefits of a Google Sheets/Excel Leave Tracker

A lot of brand new or early-stage startups use a spreadsheet to track employees’ time off.

While this may not be the most efficient solution long-term, it can work as a stop-gap method. At the very least, it’s better to track absences with a spreadsheet than not at all.

Here are a few reasons why you would want to use Excel spreadsheets to track leave.

Excel leave tracker example

It’s simple

An Excel leave tracker (or Google Sheets – consider these terms interchangeable) is not rocket science.

It can take a little time to initially set up, but after that it’s very simple. Just enter the data and it shows up. You get a visual layout of your team’s leave calendar without worrying at all about coding or design.

It’s free

Unless you specifically buy Excel just to create a leave tracking spreadsheet, you’re not adding any additional costs.

This can be a big plus for brand new startups who are trying to stay lean and avoid too many recurring expenses or subscriptions.

It’s fully customizable

Some software tools think they’re helpful and intuitive… but only as long as you use it a certain way.

A spreadsheet gives you just about complete freedom to customize your leave tracking system. Whether you want to set up custom leave types, change the way your working week is set up, or attach notes to specific leaves, it’s very straightforward to do so.

There are also some pretty cool automations you can do with Excel or Google Sheets, so long as you have the know-how.

Free Google Sheets/Excel Leave Tracker Template

Thinking of using Google Sheets or Excel to track leave in your company? Get a headstart by downloading our free leave tracker spreadsheet template.

Get the Template →

Benefits of a Leave Management Software

A leave management software is an effective alternative to tracking leave with an Excel spreadsheet.

You might be apprehensive about adding another recurring subscription – especially if your business is new and pre-revenue. But a software tool offers some pretty big benefits, and not necessarily with a huge expense attached.

Read on for the reasons why a leave management software is worth using over a Google Sheets/Excel leave tracker.

Further Reading: 5 Reasons to Use an Absence Management Software

Saving time

Running your leave management system in a spreadsheet requires a ton of data entry. While this is simple, it’s also extremely time-consuming. 

A software tool automates 90% of this work (and that’s being conservative). Depending on the size of your business, these time savings might justify a monthly subscription cost by itself.

Fewer errors

Another big con of data entry is the potential for errors. Even the most diligent worker makes a mistake here and there when they’re entering figures into a spreadsheet. You’re also probably going to forget to enter someone’s leave into the spreadsheet at some point, which can result in confusion and disruption to productivity.

Works out of the box

While a spreadsheet is relatively simple to maintain, it takes time to set up.

You need to create a separate sheet for each month, fill out the dates, add your employees… it’s not rocket science, but it’s dull and time-consuming work.

Then you need to do it all again when next year comes around.

A leave management software is designed to work out of the box – meaning once you sign up, there’s minimal setup required before it’s ready for your team to use.

Analytics & reporting

With an Excel leave tracker spreadsheet, you need to trawl the data yourself to pick out any trends, such as employees showing a track record of absenteeism, or employees who don’t take enough leave.

And the truth is, when this kind of friction is involved, you’ll probably never get around to doing it, which can lead to some big long-term HR issues.

On the other hand, software tools are designed to provide this data to you in just one or two clicks. This greatly improves the chances that you’ll look at the data and take action, which can improve the productivity of your team and the overall team culture in the long-run.

Handles the entire leave management process, start to finish

A spreadsheet is a solution for just one part of your leave management system.

You still need to think about how people put in a time off request, how the request is dealt with by the person who has to review leave requests, and more.

These separate parts of your system are where errors and inefficiencies happen. Someone sends a leave request via email, the manager replies and says “ok”, then forgets about it. Next thing you know, there’s an unexpected absence and delay because the leave wasn’t added to the Excel leave tracker.

Leave management software tools are often built to handle each step of the process. Team members request leave through the tool, it’s reviewed and approved or denied through the tool, and then automatically sent to the team vacation calendar. Easy as that.

Pricing models that grow with your business

As mentioned a little earlier, a lot of small businesses and startups are hesitant to add another recurring expense, if they can help it. And with some software tools, this fear is justified.

However, if you choose a tool like Flamingo, the cost of your leave management software will always be low relative to the size of your business.

While you’re small, the cost starts out small, or free if you’re still at a stage where there are only a few people in your team.

The expense only goes up when your team grows, and your business starts generating higher revenue.

This helps you keep your startup from becoming bloated right from the start with expensive software, while still delivering the benefits you get from automating your leave management system.

How Flamingo Helps Your Business Grow

If you’re running your team’s leave tracker with Excel or Google Sheets, switching to Flamingo can help accelerate your company’s growth.

Flamingo automates the “busywork” of leave management – tasks that are necessary, but don’t directly add anything to your bottom line.

Instead of spending time on filling out spreadsheets, you can direct your energy to tasks that offer a higher potential return on your time investment.

It also helps you build a positive culture in your business from day one.

People are the most important resource in most companies. And by investing in a tool to reduce friction and simplify the process of taking time off, you’re also investing in the health and happiness of your team members.

The response will be a better output from your employees, and a better chance of hanging on to your best talent.

Simply put, Flamingo is the best leave tracker out there for small and growing companies. It’s available for Slack, with a seamless integration that lets you request leave and review leave requests without leaving your workspace.

Check it out on the Slack App Directory or click here to add it to Slack and try it free today.

Leave management software for modern teams

Flamingo makes managing your team’s paid time off a breeze.

Learn more

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