For businesses both large and small, managing PTO requests can feel like a constant struggle. And with many businesses understaffed in recent months, there’s been even more pressure to maintain coverage. FS 375x300.png

We hear these frustrations often from new clients and know that common PTO request issues arise when:

  • Individuals request too much time off
  • Multiple employees request odd the same day or shift
  • Personal emergencies occur with no backup plan
  • The request process is disorganized
So, how can employers both provide flexibility and ensure they have enough hands on deck? Here are some of our top PTO request tips:

Clearly Communicate Your Time Off Request Policy

Set Time Off Constraints

While you want to give your employees as much freedom as possible with their time off, communicating some constraints can help avoid coverage chaos.
For example, many employers ask that time off periods be capped at 1 week or 40 hours at a time. This is especially common for smaller businesses, where there may be only a few employees in each department to help out.
Organizations should also have a policy for handling popular time off periods, especially holiday seasons. Requests can pile up the week before Thanksgiving and Christmas, so maintaining operations can easily become an issue. During this time, consider setting an earlier deadline for requests and limiting the number of days that can be taken off.

Determine a Request Timeframe

Even for PTO days, it’s fair to ask employees to communicate their time off in advance.

While companies have their own structures, the typical rule of thumb is to require employees to submit time off two weeks ahead. This is enough time for managers to piece together the upcoming schedule for shift-based environments. Two weeks is also sufficient for office workers to adjust their projects and meetings.

Automate the Request Process

You can easily spend hours inputting time off and drafting schedules. For anyone who has done so, it’s a frustrating mental game of Tetris. 

Luckily, technology today takes the weight off our shoulders. Automated timekeeping and scheduling systems like ours allow employees to send all their requests to one centralized location. Once a request is made, you’ll get an alert and can approve or deny it.

With this easy-to-use system, you’ll be able to get a bigger picture of your overall coverage ahead of time and avoid being blindsided by scheduling conflicts.

Prepare for Overlapping Requests

Even with a robust policy and procedures for requesting time off, overlapping requests will occur. These situations are uncomfortable when you know you’ll have to say no to somebody. 

When this happens, we don’t recommend a strict policy. Instead, you should have a discussion with the employees to determine whom to grant time off to. 

While a classic first come-first-serve policy may make sense in some situations, it may not for others. For example, an employee could have requested off for a “staycation” a little earlier than someone who requested off for a family member’s wedding. In this situation, the priority would probably be given to the person attending the important event.

When you're ready to tackle PTO requests, Future Systems, Inc. can help your organization or business keep track of PTO balances and manage requests with our robust online timekeeping and scheduling solutions. Reach out to request a quote.

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