Choosing the Right Employee Vacation Tracking Software for Your Business
“Hii, can you tell me how many PTO days I have left? Thanks!” “Hey, can I take an unpaid leave next week?” “Need a day off, can you put me up for next Monday?”
All HRs who receive these types of questions on a daily (from multiple people) raise your hands. ✋ A huge chunk of day-to-day HR operations consists of work that can (and should) be automated, especially regarding leave management. Introducing employee vacation tracking software is a much-needed addition to your HR tech stack. It can quickly resolve many productivity, performance, and budgeting issues, on top of stopping the constant barrage of questions that interrupt your managers’ and HRs’ flow — all on autopilot.
Still, you can’t just risk choosing the first PTO tracker that pops up. Word-of-mouth and 5-star reviews are a good place to start the search; however, what may fit one business won’t necessarily match your organization’s unique needs and expectations.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to choosing the right employee vacation tracking software for your business.
Knowing that one size does not fit all, we comprised a list of questions, concerns, red flags, and things to look out for when choosing a PTO tracker.
Below, you will find out:
- What exactly is employee vacation tracking software and what does it look like
- Why should you have one, and what tasks can the PTO tracker help you with
- Things you should know/have in place before picking a PTO tracking software
- What to look for in an employee vacation tracking software
What is employee vacation tracking software?
Employee vacation tracking software (also called PTO tracking software, or employee vacation tracker) is a digital tool that automates leave management.
With PTO tracking software, any employee can easily create and send a time off request to a person responsible for vacation approvals. The PTO requests contain dates, times, and reasons for requesting a leave. Time off requests are additionally customized with leave policies an organization has in place, displayed as leave types, along with the days off an employee has accrued, and the days they have left.
Employee vacation tracking software keeps track of PTO accrual, and current and upcoming leaves, usually with an interactive, adjustable calendar where everyones’ presence or absence is noted and color-coded, depending on the leave type.
On the other side of the screen, managers and HRs can approve or deny PTO requests, or let certain requests be auto-approved (usual practice for companies that offer unlimited PTO).
Why should you use employee vacation tracking software?
In the absence of employee vacation tracking software, people resort to Excel spreadsheets for PTO tracking or make their employees file a form each time.
These more “manual” (or should we say, ancient) methods have no place in modern organizations anymore.
The lack of automation makes the whole process prone to human errors, which can cause anything from a workplace ruckus to lawsuits, in case the employees’ taxes haven’t been filed correctly, or you wrongfully forbade them from taking deserving time off.
Even for the most precise and diligent HRs and admin workers, manually calculating PTO takes an unnecessary amount of time and makes them less productive. The collaboration features (employees request, admins approve) of modern PTO trackers make the work much easier.
A few reasons to invest
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to invest in proper PTO tracking software:
- Prevent overlapping shifts and vacations. A single, clear-cut dashboard will show you the exact vacation/time off schedule for the whole company: for the past, current, and upcoming PTO. This way, you’ll never be short on staff again due to poor shift scheduling.
- Calculate the compensatory time off correctly. Some companies choose to give comp time in place of financial compensation for overtime work. A PTO tracker will help you assign their time off correctly and avoid confusion/ workplace violations.
- Achieve higher productivity when working on projects. See who is available for work when you’re working on specific projects, and avoid transferring roles to another staff member mid-project due to contributors going on vacation.
- Improve workflow for the HR department. HRs get a break from reviewing time off requests and can get more meaningful work done, while the PTO-related tasks are as automated as possible.
- Encourage workplace solidarity. Coworkers can get together and plan vacation dates that work for everyone, without leaving the business short-staffed. Additionally, make the leave donation policy accessible and let employees use them via employee vacation tracking software.
- Create a PTO-related knowledge base for employees. With the PTO tracker in place, each staff member can access the PTO policy, and their personal data anytime. They can check how many days off they have left/have used up without having to wait for the manager’s response.
In a nutshell, the automation PTO trackers provide save time and money, increase productivity, and help managers with planning, while eliminating errors and tedious tasks.
What you need to know before picking the employee vacation tracking software
What are your most prominent day-to-day needs that a PTO tracker can help with?
There is plenty of info that can help you map out a PTO tracker you need precisely — for example:
- Do you work with a remote, global workforce and need to manage people from several countries at the same time?
- Do you need to calculate hourly wages, or do you employ salary workers only?
- Who in your company has the authority to approve or deny a time off request?
Match the number of employees, company structure and hierarchy, HR’s workload, business type, and laws that apply to the features a tool provides. The best employee vacation tracking software will be able to follow along.
What do your PTO policies and rules look like?
Before you decide to implement a PTO tracking solution, revise the current PTO policies that you have in place.
Your PTO policy should be compliant above all, and regulate PTO eligibility, accrual, rollover, payouts upon termination/resignation, comp time, and special perks and rewards promised in the shape of paid time off.
When you know exactly what kind of time off your employees can and cannot request, you’ll know how the PTO request forms need to be customized.
What’s the budget you’re working with?
Finding a perfect balance between over and underspending is tough; to get it right, be sure to articulate your needs to the representative you’re speaking with, and try to come up with a solution that will be the most cost-effective.
You can try and negotiate better pricing on a sales call. Some SaaS companies adjust their prices to startups and small businesses or offer special discounts for non-profits, educational organizations, and referrals.
Paying for the year upfront often comes with a discount, but then you have to stick to the tool you’ve chosen during that time.
What you’re already using when it comes to tech
Introducing a new software that doesn’t work well with the rest of your tech stack can create quite a mess for your staff, and produce more problems than it solves.
Take a look at the integration capabilities of the tools you work with, as well as the ones you’d consider adding to your suite.
Vacation Tracker, for example, solves this by being compatible with Slack, Microsoft, Google, or any email provider. And no, you don’t have to exit your business ecosystem just to take a look at the PTO management dashboard. 😎
If you’re not using a digital vacation tracking system yet, think about the process you’ll need to go through to make a switch. Using physical/paper PTO forms and keeping everything on paper will require some typing so you stay on track; for everything else, scan and store the files safely.
What you can and can’t compromise with
There’s probably no tool on the market that will have every little thing you’d like to need, and that’s perfectly fine. However, you do need to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice so you can have a more desirable feature.
This brings us back to the conversation about your most essential needs that an employee vacation tracking software can help with.
If you’ll only take one thing from this chapter — let it be that it is vital to know the core of your business and the day-to-day operations. With that in mind, it will be much easier to pick an employee vacation tracking software.
What to look for in an employee vacation tracking software
Now that you know *exactly* what you’re looking for, it is time to look around and see what are your options.
Check their reputation on review sites
The first step is to head to SaaS review websites and look up “employee vacation tracking software”, or “PTO tracking software”, and similar keyword variations.
We recommend you browse G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius for reviews and ratings. Look for recent reviews left by verified accounts, so you’re sure you’re dealing with honest content instead of unfair competition practice.
LinkedIn is another good place to research and ask around about the tools that piqued your interest. HR pros often post about toolkits that improved their workflow and won’t refrain from recommending stellar software to earn their audiences’ trust.
If there are no posts about the employee vacation tracking software that interests you, feel free to start the conversation and ask others to chime in with their recommendations.
See how they perform tangible tasks: demos and trials
Your final step is narrowing down your choices, and scheduling demos and trials.
This is the decision-making stage, so be sure to dedicate enough time and thought to each.
Head to the contact forms and schedule demo calls with PTO tracker vendors; each call will take between 20 to 40 minutes, during which you can find out whether a specific software is the right choice. Pay attention to details about payment and cancellation policy, and have a list of questions ready for them to answer.
Free trials are the best way to see if it’s a match.
Most PTO trackers allow potential clients anywhere from a week to a month to test the waters with no strings attached. Test the tool for everything it offers and the way it works in real-life scenarios:
- Is it easy enough to use for you and your workforce, or is there a learning curve you’re not willing to waste time with?
- Does it do everything they promise it does and make the work easier?
- How customizable the features are? This one’s pretty important, because even if there’s something missing from the feature list, having rich customization options can replace these perfectly
- How fast and reliable the platform is — does it lag, glitch, or is it painfully slow?
- Does it integrate seamlessly with your existing tech stack, or does it require additional setups and installations?
- Are there any unpleasant surprises regarding payment plans, functionality, data storage, or fine print that vendors didn’t address on the demo call?
- What is customer support like? Can you handle the issues with the help of the knowledge base, or is there a customer support rep ready to jump in and help you?
After you go through this exhaustive process, you’re ready to make the final decision.
Employee vacation tracking software is a highly useful, digital PTO management tool that automates repetitive, dull HR tasks.
It helps managers and admins spend more time doing meaningful work while keeping the employees informed about the time off they can request. PTO trackers enhance workplace transparency, improve workflow and productivity, and eliminate the chance for human errors that may result in arguments or even penalties.
Before picking a vacation tracking software, learn everything there is about your PTO policies, and what kind of tasks would benefit the most from automation. At the same time, be sure to keep your budget and existing tech stack in mind, so the new tool fits like a glove.
When you explore the tools via free trials, demos, and user reviews, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the best PTO tracker for your needs!
We hope you’ll consider Vacation Tracker, and would be glad to answer all of your questions — there’s a free 7-day trial to help you decide. 😊
A journalist turned content writer – Anja uses her investigative skills to produce high-quality SaaS, Marketing, and HR content.