Employees who take regular time off come back to work rejuvenated, fulfilled, and ready to perform their best. A great way to prevent miscommunication and help everyone plan time off is by having a shareable team calendar. Depending on the size of your company, a simple and lightweight template in Excel might get the job done, or you might find that specialized software with vacation management capabilities is the right fit for your needs.
This guide will walk you through the essential sections of a vacation request form; how to track requests in Excel; and tips for making the process efficient. We’ll also cover the benefits of being transparent about the vacation request process and provide a vacation request form template to get you started.
While employees often speak with their supervisors when requesting time off, the vacation request form provides concrete documentation so everyone is clear on the details. With a solid request system in place, you don’t have to wonder about how many vacation days an employee has remaining in the year or when they’ll be returning to work.
The form also includes information that the supervisor or coworkers may need in the employee’s absence, like which dates they’ll be gone and if or how they can be reached in case of emergency.
Aside from the employee’s name, supervisor name, date of the request, and the requested days off, a vacation request form can include fields for:
Purpose for time-off
Alternative vacation dates in case their first choice isn’t available
Number of remaining vacation days an employee has
Total number of days off requested
Number of unused days that will be left after the time off
Date employee is returning to work
Emergency contact info
Supervisor approval status
Reason for objection, if applicable
Having a clear vacation request process is the simplest way to keep your forms from becoming a confusing pile of papers. Here’s an example process:
The employee speaks to a supervisor about her plans
The employee then fills out a vacation request form and submits it to her supervisor
The supervisor decides within 48 hours
The supervisor submits the form to HR
HR inputs the data into a vacation tracker and files the form in a logical place
Another way to keep things efficient is to encourage employees to submit their vacation requests at least two weeks ahead of time, except in emergency cases of course. Having plenty of lead time for vacations ensures that the employee and colleagues can adequately prepare for the absence. This allows everyone to enjoy their time off to the fullest, rather than sweat the stuff left in the “to-do” pile at the office.
To create a straightforward vacation tracker in Excel, download a sample template like the one below, or create your own.
If you choose to create your own Excel tracker, remember to make the information visually clear. The color-coded calendar-style tracker is easy to understand at a glance and limits confusion.
Although it’s easier to make, resist the urge to create a plain spreadsheet with out-of-office dates listed in a column—it’ll be less clear.
There are a few key reasons to keep your team in the loop about who’s in the office and who’s not.
For starters, employees who remember that their coworkers are going on vacation can wrap up collaborative tasks beforehand or make plans to cover their responsibilities.
Plus, if an emergency comes up while someone is out, their coworkers know how and whether or not to contact them.
Notices on your company- or team-wide calendar are a simple way to inform everyone of who is currently or will soon be out of office. They can also quickly inform employees whether or not it’s appropriate or even possible to contact that person during an emergency. For example, trying to touch base with Savion on his epic cross-country bike trip is probably going to be difficult.
However, including these types of notices on your calendar is just one more step for you to factor into your time-off request process.
Rather than do it manually, another option is to use an org chart software like Pingboard. Pingboard syncs with Google Calendar to manage company-wide or team-specific vacation notices. It also sends notifications to your phone if someone needs to be out of office at the last minute.
If you’re a manager, you might need to quickly see who has used all their vacation days and who still needs to take time off. Pingboard can run a report on that, too, so you can make sure everyone is getting the recharge time they need.
Ready to give your employees an easy process to manage the time off they need and deserve? Get started now with this vacation request form. It includes the most important information and is easy to integrate into your new or existing vacation request system.