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Offering time off as a benefit has advantages for both the employees and the business. It increases productivity, boosts employee well-being, and makes your workforce happier. To reap these benefits, planning your employees’ time off is crucial.
However, it can be tricky to plan everyone’s time off to ensure your business runs smoothly in their absence. Employees usually want time off around the same time—for example, during holidays and major sporting events. How do you decide who gets it?
Read on to learn about time off requests, how to prioritize requests fairly, and best practices for your time off requests process.
What Is a Time Off Request Form?
A time off request form is one way time off can be requested, as well as verbally, via email, or through a time off request system like Connecteam.
You can also look at our guide with examples of how to write a PTO request email guide.
Employees submit a time off request form when requesting time off work, either physically with a paper form or digitally via the company intranet. Their team leader or manager will receive the form and can then decide whether their team has scope for that employee to be absent from work.
Time off requests come in many different formats, from formal requests to casual conversations. In some white-collar businesses where employees manage their time, time off requests are more a notification than a request.
However, as a manager, you should keep a record of all requests and notifications so you can stagger the number of employees that take time off at once.
You should also streamline the avenues through which you receive time off requests; otherwise, you might find yourself overwhelmed by requests. Connecteam’s app helps simplify the process by bringing all requests together in one centralized record.
Download your free printable time off request form here
Paid time off v.s unpaid time off
Employees can either have paid time off (PTO) or unpaid time off (UTO).
Generally, there is no legal obligation to provide paid time off. However, offering your employees PTO supports them in finding a good work-life balance. Unpaid time off can also support this; however, the financial implications may deter the employee from taking that time.
There is one instance in which you must provide PTO. If an employee has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for you over the last 12 months, they are then entitled to paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a chronically ill family member. Employees requesting this type of PTO should be given priority over others.
What Are the Benefits of Giving Time Off?
Offering time off to employees can have several benefits for your business, such as:
- A strong company culture: Offering time off as a benefit to your employees will create a culture of trust and ownership. Employees will look forward to their time off when it’s booked in advance and can balance their work and personal lives. This will ultimately increase engagement and build loyalty to your company.
- Reduced turnover: Employee burnout is the primary reason for high employee turnover. Up to 50% of employees leave their jobs for this reason! Offering time off to your employees will prevent them from reaching burnout by allowing them time to rest and recuperate.
- Increased productivity: When employees know they have time off or reduced hours approaching, they will be incentivized to work harder to achieve their workplace goals. This results in greater productivity, not only because employees are working harder but because they have sufficient time for rest between working.
- Better work-life balance: Offering time off to your employees allows them to be there for important things in their personal life, like family weddings, vacations, and graduations. This supports your employees in achieving a good balance between work and life and increases engagement when they’re at work.
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6 Best Practices for Time Off Requests
Write a robust time off policy
The first step you’ll want to take when approving time off requests is ensuring you have a robust time off policy. This should include how employees can book time off, who will approve their request, and what they can do if their request is denied. You should also include how much time off employees get and specify any criteria for their request. This might include how many people can have time off around the holidays or sporting events.
Writing a workplace policy on this topic may be time-consuming. However, it will be worth it in the long run as employees will always have a point of reference for any time-off-related queries.
As mentioned above, there are many occasions where multiple employees want to take time off. This can pose challenges for managers as you still need a sufficient workforce to run your business, but you want everyone to be happy too.
Our first tip for prioritizing requests is to encourage flexibility among your team. Encourage managers to support employees in taking the time they need by finding workarounds for peak periods. You may need to facilitate negotiations to get everyone the time off.
Our second tip is to clearly outline how time off approvals will be decided. Will they be based on a first-come-first-served basis, seniority, or who has the most time off accrued? All these options are valid, but it’s up to you to decide what’s right for your business!
Consider allowing more people to be off around the holidays
Say your policy dictates that only 20% of employees can take PTO at once around the holidays. You could consider extending that to 30 or 35% to ensure everyone can take the time off they need. You should also consider the same for large sporting events such as the Superbowl if your employees are big sports fans.
Separate time off requests for personal time and absence
You should consider any PTO requests for personal time or vacations separately from your considerations for employee absence. When an employee is sick or visiting a doctor, these absences usually cannot be rescheduled and, therefore, should be approved over personal time off requests.
Of course, employees cannot help when they are going to be ill or need medical treatment. However, denying an employee their PTO because another employee is absent may create tension among your workforce. Consider whether you can allow both employees to be off at once to enable the sick employee to rest and the other to enjoy their personal time. If you are struggling for staff, try offering overtime to an available employee or incentivizing working that day to boost headcount.
Don’t revoke requests once they’re approved!
Once an employee’s PTO has been approved, they will likely have booked their flights and accommodation or made plans with friends or family. As a result, canceling their request can be disappointing. Even in an emergency, you should explore every other avenue before denying their approved time off request. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a lot of disgruntled employees.
Use a time off approval software
There are many different ways to receive time off requests, from a conversation to a sticky note on your desk. While manual methods have their benefits, they can also have drawbacks: what if you forget your discussion? Or you lose the sticky note? In this scenario, you’ll have holidays approved for employees, but you won’t remember when the requests are for and can’t plan for them!
This is where a system like Connecteam is perfect. Connecteam’s integrated time off request system keeps all your staffing management tools in one place.
The easy-to-use online timesheets help you see who’s at work, on time off, and out sick right from your phone.
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Keep your team on track by managing time off and sick days with Connecteam. Try it for free today. No credit card required.