Challenges surrounding leave management are among those almost universally shared by companies. This is down to the fact that staff have to take time off, whether planned or unplanned, so a few issues are inevitable. That being said, while this is true, some leave management challenges are entirely avoidable, if the root causes of them are examined and identified.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the biggest leave management challenges that companies face and how to potentially solve each of them.

The HR bottleneck

A common leave management challenge is when a company has a system that’s too dependent on their HR personnel. In other words, when you have a set of leave management processes that all require the involvement of someone in HR to work efficiently.

For instance, let’s say you have a system for booking annual leave in which an employee has to contact HR directly about taking time off. Someone in HR will then potentially have to check the holiday calendar to see who’s already due to be off, contact the employee’s line manager for approval, and then get back to the employee with a decision. Plus, said HR office will need to record the dates in the calendar and update said employee’s annual leave balance. And, of course, this process is prolonged further if the date isn’t available, management doesn’t approve the time off, or if anyone involved in this process isn’t available to reply. Not only does a system like this have unnecessary steps, it also needlessly involves HR – who could be working on something of greater benefit to the business as a whole.

A centralised absence management system, in contrast, allows employees to see the holiday calendar and if their proposed dates are available, which means they won’t make a request unless they’re actually free. Better still, the system will notify their manager that a request requires their attention so they can go in and approve it. In such a scenario, HR is removed from the situation completely – and so is the bottleneck.

Confusion over remaining annual leave balance

Another frequent problem is your employees being unsure about how much annual leave they have left. This can also lead to them needlessly contacting HR to find out. Now, while this won’t take long for one employee, it can start to add up when you factor in all your staff over a period of time. A more significant consequence, however, is that an employee is less likely to take, potentially much needed, time off if they’re unsure of how much they have left.

Worse still, what if an employee is convinced they have more annual leave left than HR has in their records? If your leave management system calls for HR to manually amend an employee’s leave balance after booking in their dates, it’s prone to human error. Although it’s a simple mistake, if it’s not rectified quickly, it can lead to unnecessary disputes, which are bad for morale. In an online leave management system, on the other hand, an employee’s annual leave balance is automatically updated when they book annual leave. This gives your HR department one less responsibility, removes a reason for potential conflict, and gives your staff greater clarity and control concerning their time off.

Harder to manage resources

While some companies struggle to stay on top of their staff’s annual leave balances, others fail to keep track of which employees are off on a given day! This could result from not properly recording the date in the calendar, having multiple calendars, employees being given time off without following the proper process, or other human error.

Now, while this is good news for the employees who are off, it’s not so great for the business – as you could be left short-staffed. This is even more of a problem if it’s a particularly busy period for your company and you could have really done with the manpower.

Conversely, when you’re aware of who has time off at any given time, you can better manage your available resources and make arrangements if it looks like you might need reinforcements. This could include hiring temp workers or borrowing staff from other teams, departments, or other branches – options that become less feasible the less notice you have.

A leave tracking system with a centralised calendar solves this problem, as it guarantees that everyone has access to the same up-to-date information. Better yet, it makes it impossible for HR or management to approve annual leave without seeing everyone else who’s already booked time off.