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Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

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Table Of Contents

What’s Wrong with Excel? 

You may call me an Excel-hater, but I am not the only one. 

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Excel is a powerful and versatile tool, and it’s no surprise that it is one of the most widely used software applications in the world. It’s great for entering data, performing financial calculations, and analyzing data using mathematical and statistical functions.

However, when it comes to tracking PTO (paid time off), Excel can be a bit of a challenge. While it may seem like a convenient option, there are a number of risks and drawbacks to using Excel for PTO tracking. In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why automated PTO tracking is often a better solution than using Excel spreadsheets.

Excel is Highly Prone to Human Error 

When using simple spreadsheet software like Excel, errors are almost inevitable. According to a survey done by Market Watch, up to 88% of all Excel spreadsheets contain errors. You can imagine how many there are on your Excel file used for PTO tracking. 

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Checking countless pieces of employee information can lead to the problem of human data error. Mistakes are always possible when manually entering information into an Excel PTO tracker. Employees are required to merge documents, convert data from multiple files, and copy and paste data entries.

A small mistake in the beginning, is a big one in the end.

This kind of mistake could cost your company a lot of money. If you’re not afraid, read some of these Excel horror stories involving errors costing millions of dollars. 

There is a very good chance that the majority of your spreadsheets contain errors that are hurting your business if your company is still using spreadsheets to process PTO tracking. While a few errors in a small company of 5-10 employees might not have a significant effect on your business, you’ll see a higher impact from errors if your company starts growing and starts using more complex spreadsheets. 

How to eliminate the possibility of human error and increase accuracy?

With an automated tool, such as Vacation Tracker, you can easily reduce the risk of human error in the process of tracking and managing employee time off.

For example, you can automatically calculate PTO accrual and balances based on company policies and employee attendance records, reducing the risk of mistakes in these calculations. Additionally, Vacation Tracker can ensure that all requests are recorded and communicated to the appropriate parties, eliminating the risk of lost or forgotten requests.

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Excel Needs Manual Updating 

When you input something manually, it becomes outdated as soon as the world outside your spreadsheet changes. You’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of updating information that quickly becomes obsolete. Manually updating a single Excel spreadsheet with every employee’s leave data, including their rollover days, expired days, cashed-out PTO, vacation days, and more, can be difficult and, again, could lead to errors. 

More than 50% of spreadsheet users said they manually check the numbers after every change, according to an FSN survey. A startling 97% of people report having sleepless nights because of missed deadlines, mistakes, and insufficient controls.  

How to automate PTO tracking and eliminate manual work?

One of the key benefits of using a PTO tracking solution is that it is automated, which means that it requires minimal manual work to track and manage employee time off.

With Vacation Tracker, employees can submit leave requests through an online form, which is then automatically recorded in the system. This eliminates the need for manual data entry or the risk of lost or forgotten request forms. Once a leave has been taken, the system automatically adjusts the user’s leave balance, meaning you no longer have to do this manually.

If you are using Slack or Microsoft Teams, you can integrate Vacation Tracker and easily request and approve PTO requests from the collaboration tool.

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Using Excel Is Time-Consuming  

Excel is surely better than paper processing. However, when compared to PTO tracking software, it is still in the stone age. Employees using Excel need to enter data manually, which takes time and check for errors, which takes even more time. They spend hours doing tasks that automated software could accomplish much more efficiently and precisely. 

First, you need to gather data from employees and managers across departments, which you will then enter into a spreadsheet. This needs to be done for every employee in every department of your company. Once the data is collected, it must be manually summarized and submitted to the supervisors. Once they review it, they send it back to you. After that is finished, you must type everything in. 

Thus, Excel devours time. If “time is money”, you certainly have your money leaking, too. It all comes down to manually copying and pasting information from one sheet to another. Formulas need to be checked one by one. Studies have found that 93% of Excel users think of combining spreadsheets as a time-consuming task. 

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

There are more important things you should invest your time into, and managing employees’ days off in an Excel spreadsheet is not one of them. 

How to Save HR and Management’s Time?

Having an automated PTO tracking system in place can greatly improve the efficiency and accuracy of PTO management, saving time and reducing the workload for both HR staff and employees.

By providing a central location for tracking and managing employee PTO entitlements and balances, you no longer have to go through a stack of paperwork, endless email chains, and cluttered spreadsheets. Vacation Tracker can automatically track and update employee PTO balances as requests are approved, giving HR staff and employees a real-time view of their PTO status.

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Excel Lacks Transparency 

Using Excel to track employee PTO schedules and entitlements can be challenging, as it can be difficult to get a clear overview of who is scheduled to be out of the office at any given time. This can lead to confusion and disruptions in the workplace, as employees may not be aware of who is available to cover certain tasks or projects.

How to Improve Communication?

Vacation Tracker can resolve the problem of having no overview of employee PTO schedules by providing a central location for tracking and managing PTO entitlements and requests. With Vacation Tracker, HR staff and employees can easily view and update PTO information in real time, eliminating the need for manual updates and reducing the risk of errors. This can give team members a better understanding of who is scheduled to be out of the office at any given time, which makes it easier to plan upcoming tasks.

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Excel Has No Potential for Growing Amounts of Data 

If you notice that you are beginning to collect a lot of data, that may be a subtle sign that you should stop using Excel. Excel not only has a limit on the number of records per sheet but also has performance issues as data grows. One solution is to divide the data into multiple sheets or files, but this quickly becomes difficult to manage because, when data is separated, it becomes much more difficult to work with and analyze. 

HR teams generally have to handle numerous email exchanges, continually update Excel spreadsheets, and file a large amount of paperwork, when using Excel. Things only get worse when new employees come to the company. Mess never made one’s job easier. In fact, clutter often leads to mistakes, not to mention that it makes us less productive and demotivates us. Furthermore, having a large Excel file with a ton of poorly organized data is chaotic and inconvenient. 

As your company grows, so will the need for more HR personnel to keep track of employee leave data. Use a scalable tool when managing data if growth is important to you. It’s probably not Excel. 

How to track PTO in a growing company?

You need a tool that is built for growth – such as Vacation Tracker. As your company is growing, you can easily manage new employees in Vacation Tracker, and because the tool is easy-to-use, there is no need for additional training. New hires can get started with the system right away.

If you are using Slack or Microsoft Teams, there’s an option to automatically import users into Vacation Tracker, so you don’t have to bother with that part either.

Once everyone is using the system, you’ll have a clear overview of everyone’s PTO balance and upcoming leaves.

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Excel Was Built for Individuals, Not Collaboration 

A major obstacle when using Excel is its lack of support for collaboration. Excel was designed with the individual in mind rather than collaborative teams. For small companies with less than 10 employees and just a single person handling the majority of all PTO tracking, this doesn’t pose much of a challenge. But mid-size and larger enterprises will likely have more than one department. The company’s offices may be spread across different regions, even different countries. Collaboration plays a crucial role in such cases. 

Even if you enable multi-user editing and store your Excel file on a shared server, the procedure is prone to errors and could lead to people overwriting each other’s work. Even with cloud computing solutions, sharing a spreadsheet among many team members is difficult. But, because data can be accidentally deleted or changed, the spreadsheet that is shared is rarely “live” or “real-time”. Emailing an Excel file is tedious and it quickly becomes impossible to keep track of, and the information might get lost in team members’ inboxes. People in your company will have several copies at once and won’t know which is the latest version. 

Excel was never intended to be a collaborative tool because it can’t handle multiple users entering data at the same time. If you need multiple users to access your data and enter information, it’s time to start looking for a better replacement. 

How to give my team the tools to self-manage PTO?

Vacation Tracker is specifically designed for managing employee PTO entitlements and requests, meaning there is a central location for tracking and managing PTO information, which can be accessed by HR staff and employees in real-time. This allows for better collaboration and self-management, as team members can easily view and update their own PTO information as needed.

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Excel is Generic 

Using Excel or other manual methods to track employee paid time off (PTO) entitlements and requests can be challenging for a number of reasons. One of the main issues is that Excel is a general-purpose tool that was not designed specifically for PTO tracking. As a result, it may not be well-suited to meet the unique needs and requirements of your company.

There is also a significant knowledge management issue with using Excel for PTO tracking. If the HR manager or other key person responsible for maintaining the spreadsheet is out sick, on vacation, or absent for any reason, it can be difficult for others to interpret and update the information.

Overall, while Excel is a useful tool for organizing and analyzing data, it may not be the best choice for tracking employee PTO entitlements and requests.

How to customize a PTO tracking system?

With Vacation Tracker, you don’t have to overthink about adjusting rows and columns to suit our business’s needs. Vacation Tracker was built with PTO tracking needs in mind, whether your team is in the office or dispersed across different locations, meaning you can create locations, different departments, and custom leave types without any restrictions.

Excel PTO Tracking: A Common Practice with Unexpected Consequences

Excel Lacks Data Security 

Excel is probably mostly boring to you. But it’s a lot of fun for hackers. Attackers often manipulate Excel to launch their digital strikes. How difficult is it to hack into Excel? Not very much. Usually, spreadsheets are not password-protected. And if they are, the passwords can be pretty easily cracked. 

Furthermore, spreadsheets (and their passwords) are often unsecured, and as such, they are shared haphazardly in most companies. These unsecured spreadsheets are getting emailed and forwarded around the office, with multiple people working on them. Microsoft Office formats, including Excel, make up the most prevalent group of malicious file extensions (38%) in emails, according to research by Cisco. This leaves important data in danger. One small malicious file in an email could have catastrophic consequences. 

Keeping data on employee computers also increases the risk of data loss in the event of a computer crash. 

It is difficult to ensure regulatory compliance when using spreadsheets, and we’re witnessing a spike in worldwide regulation, such as GDPR, CCPA, and Solvency III. Data integrity, security, and confidentiality are critical in today’s world. 

How to improve security?

Data loss can be disastrous for HR departments, and cost a lot of money. Important files and paperwork containing your employees’ leave data could be hacked, lost, misplaced, or even worse, destroyed. Worry no more! Vacation Tracker keeps your data structured, safe, and stored on the cloud, removing any potential issues such as hardware failures, cyber-attacks, or the loss of physical records. 

With Vacation Tracker, you can avoid all of the headaches associated with manual leave tracking.

Vacation Tracker automates and simplifies the leave management process for all parties involved, including HR, managers, and employees. 

In addition to previously mentioned benefits, there’s so much more that teams absolutely love about Vacation Tracker.

Stellar Customer Support

What can you do when your Excel spreadsheet suddenly crashes? Call Microsoft? 

Vacation Tracker is known for its excellent customer support. You can rest assured knowing that the support team will be there to help you every step of the way, from the setup to requesting your first leave. If something goes wrong, the company will help you fix it as soon as possible. You can also use live support chat to get an opinion or some advice.  

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Integrate with Your Favorite Apps 

Vacation Tracker likes to keep everything simple. Who needs another platform in the mix, with all the software that companies already use? Now, you can approve and request leaves directly from the comfort of your favorite collaboration tool. Vacation Tracker integrates with team communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, and even email. This way, you can view and update leave days from within the platform you already know and love. You will no longer need to log on to external software or websites to track leaves.  

Prevent Employee Burnout 

According to a study done by telehealth provider MeMD, burnout at work costs employers a lot of money. A Gallup poll found that “23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.” Another study estimates that workplace burnout costs $125 billion to $190 billion per year in additional healthcare spending! 

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to lose track of your employee’s attendance score in the Excel spreadsheet, and this can lead to negative consequences such as absenteeism and presenteeism. When an organization fails to track leave in an effective way, people may suffer because they take fewer days off than they need to recover and unwind.  

Vacation Tracker will help you in this mission by providing you with a simpler, easier, and more transparent view of your workers’ attendance. Vacation Tracker can help ensure that employees are taking the time off that they need and that their vacation time is being managed effectively. This can help promote a healthy work-life balance and reduce the risk of burnout among employees. 

Maximize Your PTO Tracking Efficiency: It’s Time to Ditch Excel

If you’re finding that Excel is no longer meeting your needs for PTO tracking, it may be time to consider other solutions. While Excel is a versatile tool, it is not always the best choice for every task. In this case, a software tool specifically designed for PTO tracking may be more efficient and effective.

Don’t get us wrong, spreadsheets are great for many things, but PTO tracking is not one of them. It’s time to consider a more specialized tool that can streamline this process and help your business run smoothly.

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Uros Vucendic
Uros Vucendic

After many years of working as a programmer, Uros has finally returned to his true passion, which would be writing, as a content writer in Vacation Tracker. Human words surely bring more beauty and poetry than codes do, so one could say that today, at last, he is content as a writer. A content writer.

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