HR Teams and Managers’ Guide to Leave Planning

Andrew Buck's avatar Andrew Buck April 16, 2024

An efficient leave planning process is vital if you want to allow your employees to take time off without causing major disruptions to productivity and business operations.

In this article we’ll discuss several ways to approach leave planning in your business, including manual and automated solutions, and help you choose the one that fits best for the type and scale of your business.

Three Ways to Plan and Manage Leave For Your Team

Leave management or leave planning covers a range of tasks, such as:

There are many different ways to handle these tasks, but they can all be broken down into three main categories:

Manual Leave Planning

The first option is to do everything manually.

The main advantage of manual leave planning is that it’s a low-cost, flexible way to manage leave.

You can use free spreadsheet tools like Google Sheets, and communication tools that your business already uses (e.g. email, Slack, MS Teams). 

It’s also quite straightforward – there’s nothing complicated to get your head around.

The disadvantages are that it’s time-consuming and prone to human error.

It leaves a lot of work to do, with a lot of data entry required each time someone asks for time off.

This will suck up a ton of time and headspace, which could be used for more productive tasks.

Inevitably, you’ll forget to note down someone’s leave, forget to update their leave balance, or forget to check the leave planner, and issues will arise.

Manual leave planning might work for a very small team, but if your team is larger than just a few people, it will quickly become a huge time sink and cause a lot of problems.

Full-Stack HR Software

On the other end of the spectrum are full-stack HR tools, such as BambooHR or Workday.

These software suites cover every part of HR, from employee record-keeping to payroll, benefits administration, onboarding, and leave planning.

They will automate a lot of the leave management process, leaving less data entry needed and less room for human error.

The advantages of these tools is that they keep your business much more organized, with much less effort, than is possible if you do it on your own.

They’ll also integrate your leave data with payroll, employee records and other key areas of your HR department.

The disadvantages are that these tools are usually pretty bulky and complex, and take some time to get your head around.

Leave planning is just one module or element of the overall suite. If you’re just looking for a way to track leave, a complete HR tool will be overkill, particularly as they’re also going to come at a pretty high price, which will be a waste if you only use a small part of the tool.

Dedicated Leave Planning App

The third choice is somewhere in the middle, using a dedicated leave tracking app like Flamingo.

Unlike full-stack HR software, this is an app that’s just for managing and tracking leave. It automates everything from handling time off requests to updating your leave planner and employees’ leave balances, without all the extra features that you might not need.

The advantages are similar to full-stack HR software, in that an app like Flamingo saves you a ton of time, effort and headspace.

But by using a simpler app like this, it’s also much easier to integrate it into your team, as there’s much less of a learning curve for you and your employees.

It’s also cheaper, and tends to be more flexible than bulky, rigid HR suites.

The disadvantages are that it’s not as complete a solution for big teams who need tools for payroll management, record-keeping, compliance, etc, and need all these tools to be naturally integrated.

Run a more productive team with Flamingo.

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How to Choose the Right Leave Planning System

Each option has their pros and cons, and fits companies at different levels.

You need to weigh the pros and cons as they relate to your business, your priorities and the resources you have available.

Generally speaking, manual leave planning works for only very small teams, where using an app to manage leave wouldn’t add much, if any, value.

Yet since you’ll need to migrate to a leave management tool once your team grows, if you anticipate this happening, you might as well use an app and get used to effective systems and processes before they become as important.

A full-stack HR tool is better for larger companies with extensive needs in terms of compliance, security and record-keeping.

For most small and medium businesses, we recommend a leave tracking app. This is more efficient than doing everything manually, and likely more efficient than using a complicated HR suite as well.

It’s also the most cost-effective option for small or medium businesses. With the time you save with a tool like this, plus the organization it brings to your business, it’s an easy value add for your team.

Ultimately, choose the leave planning tool that you think works best for you. If you think that’s a dedicated leave management app, click here to try Flamingo for free and see how it makes your life easier.

What an Effective Leave Management System Does For Your Business

When you streamline your leave management workflow and processes, the following things happen:

Team members can go on leave with minimal interruptions

Many business owners or managers discourage their team members from taking time off (at the detriment of their health, happiness and wellbeing), because of the potential interruptions it will cause.

An efficient leave planning system means you can allow people to take time off, whether it’s for personal commitments, a long-due vacation, or just a day off here and there to stay fresh, without sinking your team.

Your team feels happy, fresh and engaged

When staff are free to take regular breaks during the year, you’ll notice a more positive air around the workplace.

Team members will be happier, less stressed, healthier, and more engaged with their work, as opposed to being overworked, overwhelmed and burned out.

Employee turnover decreases

Happier and healthier staff means lower turnover.

Lower turnover means lower costs for the business, plus greater cohesiveness in your team, as there is less chopping and changing of personnel.

Leaders spend less time on admin work

When you automate leave management, you’ll save huge amounts of time for team leaders or HR staff.

These tend to be your higher-paid staff, who have a ton of important work on their plate. Reducing their time spent doing menial administrative work should be a priority, and allows them to dedicate more time and energy to more important tasks.

Productivity and creativity is higher

Overall, you’ll see higher productivity levels in your business.

Staff will be healthier, happier and well-rested, which has a direct positive impact on productivity.

In addition, allowing employees to take more vacations can lead to increased creativity, which is vital for the long-term growth and success of your business.

Build a Better Leave and Vacation Workflow Today

If you’re ready to make your leave planning workflow more efficient, and your team happier, healthier and more productive, try Flamingo.

Flamingo is an app that automates time off requests and leave management. It integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and Google Calendar, alongside a browser-based web app, letting it fit seamlessly into your existing workflow.

It includes:

Flamingo is the best way to manage leave if you’re a small or medium-sized organization, and also fits great for larger teams running their company on Slack or MS Teams.

It saves time, saves energy, and helps you build a more positive company culture.

Try Flamingo free today.

Andrew Buck's avatar

Andrew Buck

Andrew is the content manager at Flamingo. He has managed teams in multiple industries, for both physical and remote businesses, and has experience dealing with the ins and outs of HR and leave management on a daily basis.

Leave management software for modern teams

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