4 Ways to Track Leaves & Holidays for Remote Teams with Microsoft 365

          If you lead a remote team that uses Microsoft 365, then you may be trying to figure out how to use it to manage leaves and holidays effectively. 

          Managing time off and public holidays can be particularly daunting if you lead a global team. Having a proper system to track leave, vacation, and holiday times with timely reminders is crucial for you and your team to plan appropriately. 

          Having a centralized system for planning and sharing holidays will prevent your team from missing critical deadlines by clearly seeing who will be in/out so the workload will be appropriately distributed. 

          This article will outline some of the challenges you may face managing time-offs for your remote teams. Then you will see the different ways Microsoft 365 can be used to streamline your leave management process, including our free Leave and Holiday Tracker built from Microsoft 365 Power Apps. 

          But first, let us have a clear understanding of leaves and holidays in the context of work. 

Employee leave

          Employee leave or leave of absence is the written confirmation that an employee needs to be away from work for a certain period. 

          It is usually left up to a manager or supervisor to decide whether to approve it or not. Some are legally required, and employers voluntarily offer others. 

Public Holidays

          A public holiday is a nationally recognized day established by law that usually commemorates a special event. It is typically a day that most businesses and institutions are closed. 

          Countries observe all kinds of public holidays that are unique to their culture, and there are also several international holidays observed by many, regardless of cultural affiliation. 

Challenges to Leave Management

          To avoid being caught off guard during deadlines, encourage sharing calendars so you and your team can plan and see ahead who will be in or out of the office. 

          It is important to communicate this clearly with your teams to manage time off and public holidays effectively. 

          Sharing this information with the relevant team members makes it easier to plan and adjust project timelines when people are on leave. But even so, other issues still arise in tracking these time offs. 

          Below are some of the challenges that arise when tracking leaves and holidays. 

Tracking leaves

          1. Not knowing or keeping abreast of the leave balances or accruals of your team members (paid and unpaid leaves) 

          2. No notifications regarding upcoming leaves or who will be on leave or when leaves are requested, approved, or declined.

          3. Not having flexible time-off policies (jury, parental, etc.) with monthly or daily accruals because it is too hard to track. 

          4. Managers or teams not being aware of planned leaves. 

          5. Making sure employees add leaves to their calendars and set out-of-office messages. 

          6. Not being able to automate out-of-office messages and incorporate leave approval into daily workflows. 

          7. Not having a division between admin access and regular staff. 

          The challenges for tracking holidays are similar, with a few differences. 

Tracking Holidays

          1. No notifications to alert your staff about upcoming holidays.

          2. Assigning different holidays to distinct groups of people (different ethnic groups) or individual users. 

          3. Not having a uniform holiday schedule or being able to create custom holidays. 

          4. Automatically adding holidays to people’s calendars with reminders in Microsoft Teams. 

Solutions to Tracking Team Leaves and Holidays

          1. Leaveforce  

          If your struggling with manual time off tracking and approvals. Leaveforce seamlessly integrates with your familiar Microsoft environment, transforming how you manage employee leave. Here’s how it benefits you: 

Admins: 

         • Effortlessly create and manage leave policies: Define different leave types, accrual rates, and approval workflows with ease. 

         • Organize your team: Create groups, assign users, and manage permissions with a simple interface. 

         • Stay informed: Track leave requests, see who’s on leave, and identify potential burnout risks. 

         • Boost employee experience: Enable Teams notifications, automatic calendar sync, and keep absences private for specific groups. 

         • Flexible options: Choose from various settings like unpaid leave, hourly time off, and prioritize team well-being. 

Managers: 

         • Approve leave requests quickly and easily: See only the leaves from your team and take action with a few clicks. 

         • Get insights into your team’s leave: Access detailed leave balances and history for each employee. 

         • Stay connected with your team: See who’s currently on leave, upcoming holidays, and important milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. 

         • Delegate leave requests: Submit leave on behalf of your team members for a smooth workflow. 

Employees: 

         • View your leave balances and history: Get a clear picture of your available time off for all leave types. 

         • Request leave in seconds: Choose start and end dates, specify half-day or specific hours, and submit your request with ease. 

         • Stay informed about your team: See who’s on leave, upcoming holidays, and important milestones. 

         • Focus on what matters: Leaveforce takes care of the administrative hassle, so you can focus on your work. 

Leaveforce is more than just a leave management tool: 

         • Seamless Microsoft integration: Enjoy a familiar and intuitive experience within your existing Microsoft environment. 

         • Customizable workflows: Tailor Leaveforce to fit your specific needs and company policies. 

         • Improved employee experience: Empower your team with easy leave management and clear communication. 

         • Reduced administrative burden: Save time and effort with automated processes and streamlined workflows. 

Additional benefits: 

         • Automatic proration for leave for new employees. 

         • Download leave request data for easy reporting. 

         • Identify and address potential burnout risks with custom leave thresholds. 

         • Set individual work hours for employees with varied schedules. 

          Leaveforce is a one-time purchase that integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365. Effortless, cost-effective, and yours forever. See how it works! 

 

          2. Microsoft Leave Power App Template

          This template and our Leaveforce app have much in common, mainly because both were built using the Microsoft Power Apps platform. 

          However, the only drawbacks are that it does not incorporate leave approvals into daily workflows nor allow employees to set out-of-office messages. 

          Though it will track holidays for your company, it does not allow for any alerts when they are upcoming, and only a standard set of holidays will be observed for your company and not for a distinct group of people. 

          3. Excel Spreadsheet

          In Microsoft Excel, leave tracker templates are great tools to track leaves/holidays in an orderly fashion. It is a straightforward way of managing absences and time reports of employees. 

          The templates are easily customizable and inexpensive. However, collecting, capturing, and summarizing data is a time-consuming process. 

          There is no automation to assist this issue and other functions that need automation. 

          The Excel spreadsheet fails to integrate with calendars leaving everyone without reminders of upcoming time offs and other data. 

          The disadvantages to using Excel are privacy concerns and the inability to control what information you may be showing others. It also does not include leave approvals in daily workflows.  

          4. SharePoint List

          The good thing about using SharePoint lists to track time off is the data can be in calendar form, and it can be automated, saving the user time. It allows visibility of leave balances, and it integrates with your outlook calendar. 

          Approvals and rejections of leave requests are easily visible. However, SharePoint has its disadvantages. Unless the lists are customized, there is no visual distinction between who requests time off and who is approving it. 

          Getting clear visibility about who is on leave, what type of leave they are on, or time off in the past requires a lot of effort. Managing different leave policies requires a lot of customization and complex workflows. Even though it integrates with your outlook calendar, it is not easy to do. 

Why It is Important to Track Leaves and Holidays?

          It is essential to consider your company’s time-off strategy. 

          Having the right system in place impacts your team’s workflow, productivity, and culture. Effective time-off management ensures you maintain adequate staff levels to serve your customers properly and allows you to plan for the absence of those staff members out on leave. 

          In addition, cultivating a practice of taking time away from work, as studies have shown, can radically boost employee productivity, lower their chances of burnout, and reduce employee turnover in workplaces that have generous time-off policies. 

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