Working as a Support Technician, I am frequently asked by customers, “What is the best way to set up vacation/time off requests on our intranet?”. In answering this, I always recommend using Event Calendars. The reason behind this is that an Event Calendar gives you a visual representation of when employees are taking time off.
Creating a Vacation Request Calendar
For the purpose of this blog, I am going to take you through some best practices for creating a vacation request calendar, as well as how to build standard workflows. The photo below displays what it looks like to configure this type of calendar.
To make is easier to track which employees are taking days off, I suggest creating a sub-category for each employee. In addition to the creating sub-categories, I have set up each employee with their own color codes to help make each vacation request stand out.
Once the vacation request calendar is completed, and employees start to request time off, your calendar will look like this with the different color codes to help distinguish which employee has requested what time off.
Setting sub-categories and color codes makes it extremely simple for employees to request time off. All an employee has to do is choose their name (sub-category) from the dropdown menu, and their color code will automatically be selected.
Building Standard Workflows
There are two steps to building a vacation request calendar. First, is building the vacation calendar. Once you have the calendar built out, you can set up standard Approval Workflows. Before an employee’s vacation time will appear on the calendar, you can have their request go through an automated approval process.
For example, anytime an employee requests time off, a notification will be sent to the HR Manager notifying them of the request. On the flip side, a notification will be sent to the employee letting them know their request has been sent into an approval process. Once the HR Manager approves the time off, it will appear on the calendar, and the employee will be notified their request was accepted.
With Event Calendars, you can quickly and easily set up as many standard Approval Workflows with as many stages as you need. You can also add additional approval managers if more are required. The photo below shows an example of an approval stage with two approval managers. First, the time off request will go to the employee’s supervisor, then if it is approved it will go to the HR Manager.
Changing Automated Approval Workflows
Every so often, our customers encounter a scenario where their assigned approval manager is away on vacation, or they have left the company. To save overhead down the road, we recommend utilizing groups as a way to handle which users are set up as approval managers.
For example, once the approval process is completed, the vacation request will need to notify HR. However, you only have one person within your HR department, and it is very tempting to only add the HR user directly rather than assigning the HR group. In this example, you have a single point of failure as the HR user may be away, or may have left the company and now this stage is left without someone to receive the notification. We would recommend to instead assign the HR group.
As you change users within your standard workflow settings, any pending vacation requests will retain their original workflow as it was configured at the time the vacation request was submitted. If you update the approval managers, you will now need to reset the workflow and have the users re-submit their requests (the form will remain and they will only need to click ‘submit’ to re-submit it back).
If you have a group instead of a single user, changes to the users in the group will happen right away and will minimize any risk of a user submitting their vacation requests and not having an approval manager assigned.
What standard workflows have you built out on your intranet besides the Vacation Calendar? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!