Time-off Management: Where To Start

Which Employee’s Time-off Management Tool Works Best for You

Peter is a budding, tech-savvy entrepreneur. He co-founded a company, Unique Web Solutions, last August 2013.

Like most start-ups, the first few months was rough. But as the years go by, Unique Web Solutions skyrocketed.

The small company grew in prominence and started serving local and international businesses. Peters’ small team of 4 computer science majors grew to 20 in just two years.

However, while the company enjoys a new year of unprecedented growth, major problems start to surface — particularly in the area of employee’s time-off management.

In a short correspondence, Peter shared some of his dilemmas to me. Here’s an excerpt of his email:

Hi Lenmark!

The future of Unique Web Solutions is so bright!

Despite my excitement however, there are a few things that worry me. As a CEO, I never expected my team to grow from 4 to 20 in just two years. While it is fun to welcome new faces in the office, I find it quite challenging to manage each of them — particularly their schedules. Like most start-ups, I rely heavily on post-it notes and spreadsheets but with this many employees to handle, I don’t think it’s helping anymore.

For instance, two days ago, I noticed that one of my employees, John, is missing. So I phoned him to ask why he didn’t come to the office. To my surprise, he told me, “Sir, didn’t I tell you that I will be out on a vacation? You approved it last week!”

I screwed up. I don’t want my employees to think that I’m not capable of leading them.

What can I do?

Are there any employee’s time-off management tools that I can use?

Best regards,


I decided to write this post in response to Peters’ email. And like Peter, many of you are probably experiencing the same problems too! Right?

I want to help. That’s why in the section, I listed some time-off management tools (as well as their respective pros and cons) that you can use to micromanage your employees.

Read on!

Different Time-off Management Tools

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

1. Post-it Notes

College students love post-it notes 🙂 And it also works for small start-ups with (at most) 5 employees.

It’s very easy and convenient to use. Post-it notes are great for next-day reminders — anything more than that like employee vacation schedules will spell disaster.

Why? Because it’s very easy to misplace them as the adhesive wears down over time.

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

2. Memory

It’s good to know that our body has its own internal hard drive but mind you, it’s not as reliable as most people think.

Even if you have a photographic memory, I still don’t recommend using it as a storage for your employees’ schedules. It might work if there’s only 2 or 3 of you but 15 or 20?

I don’t think so. With so many things going on every day, there’s a very high chance that you’ll forget something.

And what happens when you accidentally knock your head on a door? As the saying goes: “A dull pencil is better than a bright mind.”

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

3. Paper Desk and Digital Calendars

These tools are useful for small start-ups. For digital calendars, you can schedule shifts as an event (with your employee’s email address as an attendee) and invite your employees to subscribe to it so every time they check their calendars, they can see their most current schedule.

Though it’s quite handy and partially automatic (especially for repetitive tasks), this method only works with a handful of employees.

Creating shifts and updating can be quite tedious if you have 15 or 20 employees on your plate.

Also, this option doesn’t have a reliable communication functionality which is a bummer if you make regular schedule changes.

Digital calendars don’t count how many days each employee have left in their year balance nor it monitor sick days and telecommuting.

Digital calendars are also not suitable for storing employee data, dividing the workforce into teams and monitoring of past requests and accruals.

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

4. Blackboard

Blackboards work like post-it notes. They’re ideal for short term reminders or for small-startups with at most 4 or 5 employees.

Although a blackboard is cheap and easy to install, it’s still an offline solution. That means your employees can’t see their vacation schedules on the go or from other locations aside from your office.

With blackboards, it’s impossible to access files online, to centralize employee data or quickly see who’s off and when.

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

5. Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are probably one of the most common time-off management tools used by start-ups and medium-sized businesses today. There’s no surprise here.

Spreadsheets are cheap and come with office package. They’re very adaptable, easy to copy and provide basic to complex data analyses features.

On a typical set-up, each employee has his or her own spreadsheet for time registration. Each page is tabbed per week with each tabs containing fields for events and time registration from Monday to Sunday.

Changes in these spreadsheets are saved to a server. The company then uses these consolidated files prior to invoicing which is either done manually or automatically using macros.

However, once a company starts to have 15 or 20 employees, spreadsheets are no longer viable.

With this number of employees, time registration errors are easily made and the costs of making sure that all data are accurate is very costly — some companies even hire Excel experts just to do this job!

Not to mention the hours wasted due to time registration errors and data corruption!

Employee’s Time-off Management: Where To Start

6. HR Management Software

HR Software are very trendy now especially for companies that have more than 10 employees.

While tools 1 to 5 work great for small teams, an HR software serves as an all-around solution, regardless of how many employees you have.

Here are some benefits of HR Software in scheduling and managing employee-time-offs.

  • Online Leave Management – all employee data (such as leaves and vacation schedules) are organized in one place
  • Employee Self-Service – give your employee the power to plan their own leave. Less paperwork, less headaches
  • Shared Leave Calendars – seamlessly integrate with iCal, Google Calendar and MS Outlook to know when your employees are on leave while on the go
  • Detailed Employee and Company Reports – see key HR stats in graphical format to gather meaningful insights that’ll help you make informed decisions
  • Security and Data Recovery – Don’t worry. Your data is 100% safe and secure

A great HR Software which has an employee time-off feature that you can try is CakeHR. You can check it out here.


Written By

Lenmark Anthony Baltazar

I have been living a life of HR for as long as I can remember. My experiences helped me realize that true happiness comes from being a blessing to the lives of others. I hope my skills and talents will be a blessing to you as well.