Are spreadsheets the right tool for leave management?

June 5, 2017

Excel is a great application, it is really powerful and can be used to solve a large number of problems for any business. When it comes to managing holidays within a company a typical scenario is that you say to yourself (or someone else in your company says) “I just need to create a small spreadsheet to record who is on holiday” – simple right?

When you are small, this works just fine. There aren’t many holiday requests to deal with and it is easy to know when everyone is going to be in or out of the office. But as your business starts to become more successful and you hire more staff, the additional overheads of maintaining that “simple spreadsheet” start to creep in and you find yourself having to provide read-only access to certain employees in order to ensure that data isn’t lost. Before you know it, you have become the bottleneck for maintaining the spreadsheet whilst trying to juggle every other task that needs to get done in order to run your business – calculating the pro-rata holiday entitlement for new employees is a pain, but you can cope with it.

For a period of time this may be workable but there comes a time when you think to yourself…”this is starting to take too much of my valuable time” – it is difficult to say when exactly this might happen to you because it can vary a great deal between people and companies but unfortunately it seems inevitable that the day will come.

So the question then becomes “what can I or what should I do about it?”. Well, you have a number of options. You could hire someone else to take over the job – this will alleviate the problem in the short-term and it will no longer be your burden but deep down you know that you are just passing the buck and not really solving the problem.

You could sign up to a full blown HRM system but these generally have way too many features for what you need right now and you will generally end up paying for something that you only use a small fraction of it’s capability – I suppose you might need all of those features at some point in the future, right?

Alternatively, you could use a dedicated online self service leave management system which allows your employees to manage their own leave and instantly see who is in or out of the office at any time, from anywhere. If you choose the right one, it could even calculate the pro-rata holiday entitlements for new employees and ensure that your key employees cannot be off at the same time. Some online leave management systems can even handle things like overtime requests with time off in lieu, recording doctors appointments, sickness and absence tracking with Bradford factor calculations and part-time employees working 3 days a week or full-time employees working fortnightly work patterns.

By taking your leave management to the cloud, you will be freeing yourself and your other employees from the unnecessary burden of leave management using spreadsheets – you might be small now but your company will grow, will your current leave management solution scale with you?

I would love to hear your thoughts, what are you currently using for your leave management – how is it working for you?