HR Administration

Time off policies promote convenience while enhancing engagement

By Rick Bell

Apr. 22, 2020

Some 768 million days of paid time went unused by American workers in 2018. That time amounted to about $65 billion in value.

While those statistics point to an American workforce that is overworked, it also presents an underlying problem many workers face: an organization’s time off policies that are poorly communicated, too complicated and overly cumbersome.

That could lead to employees shirking the system, which frustrates managers and angers payroll staff. Simplifying time off policies helps employers to more easily track their workforce’s vacation and sick time while allowing employees to take off the time they have earned.

Considering that some payroll systems are stuck in decades-old processes, an upgrade may sound easier said than done. But that’s not the case.

Even if a time off policy is locked in a paper-based 1980s time warp that’s as scary as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” employers can channel their “Old Town Road” and easily upgrade to a fresh, comprehensive 2020s system that promotes modern sensibilities through ease of use.

Here are four ways a tech upgrade can strengthen your organization’s PTO policy:

  1. Simply simplify.

With a simplified time-off system, employees are more likely to take the time off they have earned and deserve. That leads to happier employees, which in turn leads to higher productivity. An updated time off policy includes features allowing employees to submit time off requests from any device at any time, making it a convenience rather than a cumbersome process. 

  1. Communicate your time-off policy capabilities.

Employees can be intimidated to take time off for whatever reason. And if they don’t know that their employer has upgraded to an employee-friendly, mobile-enabled time-off system they are less likely to request earned PTO. It’s clear that a rested employee is more productive. Your enhanced time off system also should provide an easy and effective way to communicate anything from a newly opened shift to a company’s time off policies.

  1. Paperwork is a relic of the past.

 A time off system that relies on technology rather than file folders and cold steel cabinets is not only a nod to a more mobile workforce but to the younger demographics of today’s working population. A mobile-friendly time off policy makes it easy to manage PTO requests and sends the message that you’re encouraging employees — especially millennials and Generation Z — that they should use their time.

  1. Build a more productive, trusting workforce.

By encouraging employees to take their time off, rather than obfuscating it through some dim, impermeable system, employers can enhance engagement, promote transparency and build trust. Such employee engagement tactics lead to a more positive work environment. Streamlining the PTO process makes it easier for employees to use their paid time off and leads to a more productive workforce.

An engaged, rested workforce leads to a more harmonious and productive workforce. A mobile-friendly leave management system also allows employees to better plan for their time-off needs, switch schedules and communicate with one another.’s intuitive leave management provides seamless operations and provides tie-ins to scheduling and payroll.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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