For all the ways that modern technology has hindered our ability to truly get away when we’re on vacation, there’s equal credit due to the tech tools that enable a seamless PTO process. Still think technology is the villain of vacation? First, consider these five ways that tech can improve the paid-time-off process.

1. An HRIS represents a better way to manage PTO

A human resources information system (HRIS) boasts many benefits for businesses, from automating recurring HR tasks to providing easy and secure access to important employee information. It also can enhance the PTO process, including requesting and approving PTO, sending PTO notices, and keeping track of PTO earned and used.

Brenda Rowan, Director of Operations and Payroll Services for XMI, says PTO isn’t often the first thing businesses think of with an HRIS, but they quickly discover the value when putting it to use, especially in advance of a busy vacation season. “What used to take hours of manual input can mostly be done automatically,” she says. “It’s been a real time-saver for businesses and their employees.”

Beyond the time savings, managing PTO through an HRIS has additional benefits, such as employee empowerment to actually request and use the PTO they’ve earned. Having all the requests in one place (instead of in individual emails) also allows managers to better visualize coverage needs.

2. Email features mean vacationing employees can truly unplug

Forget periodically checking your email on vacation. The best email programs have robust features that auto-respond to messages and automatically forward others to designated recipients. Setting up an out of office auto-reply is always a good idea to let anyone know you’re away from your desk. Including the name and contact information for someone they can contact in your place makes the idea even better. Or, cut out the extra step and instruct your email client to automatically forward messages from certain recipients to a designated coworker.

3. Shared inboxes mean someone is getting the message

If your business has a high volume of customer service requests, you probably already know about shared inboxes. That’s where more than one team member gets the same message sent to a single email address (, for example). While shared inboxes aren’t perfect—some complaints include reduced productivity and duplication of efforts—they do help provide seamless coverage when an employee is out of the office.

4. Shared calendars mean everyone is on the same page

No more wondering why someone isn’t at their desk or scheduling a meeting when half your team is out. Quickly and easily see when coworkers are on vacation by posting all days to a shared calendar. To avoid privacy concerns, be careful not to include more than the basics in this calendar view. It should simply state who’s out, but not give details about why.

5. Social collaboration platforms helps make sure work gets covered

It’s one thing to create a standard operating procedure for any given task or job description. It’s another to make it available to whoever might need it at a moment’s notice. This is where social collaboration tools come in. It could be as bare bones as a shared folder on a company server or as cloud-based and full-blown as Asana, Basecamp or Huddle. Post SOPs and other important documents here and you’ll always ensure they’re readily accessible in your absence.


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