Online holiday planner - family holiday
Photo courtesy of http://www.welldoing.org

It’s that time of year again when we are seeing a rush of adverts for sunny beaches, superb sangria and whitewashed villas…or a good old fashioned Butlins themed weekend.  Thoughts everywhere are already on where to spend those two glorious weeks off work.

Before you get inundated with a mad rush of holiday requests, its worth taking time to look at how you are managing your annual leave and see whether or not an online holiday planner would be a better option for your business.

In a digital age with online calendars, where even birthdays are managed with Facebook reminders, spreadsheets and paper are fast becoming redundant – with good reason.

Paper is messy, important data is often lost and reporting is time consuming and messy at best and impossible to do at worst, and spreadsheets are only as good as the person managing them,

If that person happens to be you, there are some simple metrics to decide if you really want that burden.  Each staff member typically takes 7 different holiday occasions per year.  Managing by spreadsheet means you will get at least 7 requests from each member of staff, which you will then normally have to clear with their line manager, then report back to them.  In an organisation with 100 staff, that adds up to a whopping 2100 x 10 minute conversations or emails about annual leave each year plus the actual admin time in entering in the data.  With multiple sites, its even harder, and the person ‘at the top’ (or often the person in charge of admin for the person ‘at the top’) has to compile data from multiple spreadsheets into reports for the board.   All of this adds up to a monumental workload leading many HR managers to say ‘spreadsheets are the bane of my life’!

In the digital age there are plenty of other options.

Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Codel Software, the developers of leading absence management software Activ Absence, said:

“Spreadsheets really do complicate a very simple process.  With our system, staff see their own leave entitlement and can request leave in 2 clicks from any device, even a smartphone, and their line manager approves or rejects the request in one click!   Whilst we can set up multi stage approvals, for most people the HR Manager doesn’t even need to be involved in most leave requests – and the reporting is automatic!”

“Our software will even remind you if there is too much annual leave remaining in the business so you don’t reach the end of the year with too many people needing to take time off in December.”

Having a cursory glance at the products on the market, most of the online holiday planners out there are far more cost effective than an HR Manager’s time.  There is an argument that your Managers would cost the same even if they were not doing admin, but your skilled HR people are a valuable resource.  By reducing their admin burden, you give them time to nurture talent and support those individuals who would be otherwise off sick or would leave – and that is a far bigger cost to the business.

Certainly all of the users of online holiday planners we spoke to are big fans of the digital technology. Rachel Sumner, HR Manager for Cartesian, said:

Activ Absence has eliminated the need for unreliable manual calculations of pro-rated leave and carry-over, reduced the admin burden involved in monthly leave reconciliations and improved accuracy of staff time sheet recording.  Our staff now have better visibility of the amount of leave they can take and the types of leave to which they are entitled.”

Indeed, whilst many users of online holiday planners are keen to sing the praises of the new technology, we were hard pressed to find a user of any online holiday planning solution who had removed it to go back to a spreadsheet.   The message is clear – there is no longer any need to struggle with a manual system, technology is here to stay, so use it!