ClockShark Blog

Manage PTO Without the Pain

January 16, 2019

Manage PTO Without the Pain

Making sure employees are scheduled for the right shifts each week, are paid on time (and accurately!) can be a big, hairy chore. Add in the complexity that comes with offering and managing a competitive benefit package that includes paid time off (PTO) and sick leave, and you can spend a lot of time each week scheduling time off, accurately running payroll and a ton of other minor details. Managing this critical employee benefit more effectively with a policy plan builder, simple request and approve functionality, and automatic PTO and sick time accrual that links to payroll is an obvious win for any small and medium size businesses.

Taking time off work can be a pain

The pain of managing paid time off and sick time is very real. Local construction and field service businesses routinely use phone calls or chats with supervisors that hopefully get input manually onto spreadsheets to calculate and accrue paid time off which then need to be updated every pay period. Some businesses ask for a paper trail, relying on emails, texts or phone call to request time off from their manager, often without easy access to understand how much time they have to use.

Frustrations can mount quickly as the request process and approval determination spirals into email confusion. First, employees may not know how much time they have available to use. Did they already use up their allotted time? Have they called in sick too many times? Do sick days count against vacation days? When do I get more sick time off? Did I lose some time after the first of the year because I didn’t take enough days off? In many cases, local businesses use the tried-and-true spreadsheet method to manage employee time off. So, there’s usually no quick way for an employee to find answers to these questions, and that chore inevitably falls on the employee’s manager.

Does this look familiar?

A good manager is going to make sure that the work for that day gets done and will check to see if anyone else has taken time off for that day. When they don’t have quick access to the PTO spreadsheet, details of the plan or how sick policies work, it then rolls up to the HR or office manager. What should be a simple task can cause a disruption in work, and be a real pain.

Time off work is a good thing

Human resource and employee productivity studies conclude that people are more productive and happier when they are allowed breaks from work and have access to paid time off plans from their employers. While there are always those employees a little too eager to take time off (or ask last minute for some time off the morning after the big game), there are others that hesitate to take advantage of this benefit simply because they don’t know how much time they have available, and that’s something to avoid at all costs. It’s also something hard to keep track of. Wondering how much time each employee has during a rollover period or at the end of a year can be a chore.

Managing PTO policies are a hassle

It’s pretty rare to find a local construction company or franchisee with enough revenue and the number of employees that typically warrant a dedicated human resource employee. These HR folks are tasked with managing employee benefits, including time off policies and making sure employees are accruing the proper hours for sick and vacation time. Without this dedicated resource, there are few options that can fit into a budget already stressed by a tight labor market and material costs.

We know there are some companies who may not even know an employee took the day off until after the fact. They see it written on a crumpled old time sheet at the end of the week or pay period. Sure hope that job got done for that top customer!

Outsourcing HR duties to a consultant, software platforms, Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), and payroll software often doesn’t make it easier to manage plans simply, and often cost too much. So what are your options?

Building things is easy, right?

So, you build it yourself. After all, what is a construction company if you can’t build a PTO policy and manage it? Didn’t we build this company from scratch with elbow grease and the DIY attitude? Not so fast. PTO plans can be difficult and involve a lot of variables. Carryover hours – how many do you allow an employee to bring with them into the new year? What’s the overall max on time accrued? Is accrual done by pay period or given out as one lump sum? Can someone take increments of an hour off? Oh, and don’t forget to make sure it all complies with federal and state regulations.

Then you start creating “the best spreadsheet ever!™” to manage it all, complete with complex formulas and calculations you think are right, hidden columns and rows to make sure nobody sees someone else’s sensitive information. Even then, you still have to manually advance the formulas each week or pay period. After a few months of errors in payroll and some comments from employees, this can turn quickly into “the spreadsheet that I eternally hate.™”

Even if your spreadsheet is up and running okay, you’re still faced with the communication hurdle and an assortment of gaps in the process for requesting and approving time off. Maybe you’ve even created a Google Form for employees to request time off. Nice! But only if you’re lucky do you have a quick way to make sure that the work for a day is getting done by the right people on the schedule. If you’re really good, those paid time off hours make their way over to payroll without manual intervention. Oh, and don’t forget about adding someone to the spreadsheet and making sure all of those fancy formulas carry over!

Face it, the DIY path often leads to more complexity than when you first began.

ClockShark takes the pain out of PTO

Simply put, spreadsheets, paper requests and emails just don’t work well, and can become unmanageable over time. ClockShark’s PTO software was built with the specific needs of field service and construction operations in mind, and offers a great choice for local businesses to take the pain out of PTO.

Ditch the paper tracking and spreadsheet mayhem with a custom policymaker that’s flexible enough to fit any state or federal guidelines. (We’re looking at you, Arizona!) Create multiple paid time off policies and sick leave policies that automate the tedious task of managing this important employee benefits each and every week. Even the most complex plans can be tamed using the simple setup tool.

ClockShark walks you through the process step by step to add in details such as annual time off limits, how and when employees accrue time off, if there is a waiting period, carryover hour rules, and maximum balance limits. Employee hire dates make sure the paid time off balances are in sync with your pay periods without lifting a finger. Now, vacation and sick hours are included in payroll seamlessly along with other work time.

Requesting time off is simple

Employees can see quickly from the ClockShark mobile app how much time they have available and can quickly request a day or partial day off. An alert then goes to the manager with a quick link to review and approve. When approved, that approved time off automatically appears on the timesheet calendar. This allows for an accurate view of what time off has been approved, and allows for better scheduling and making sure the work on the job site gets done. Using ClockShark for managing paid time off, communication frustrations are a thing of the past.

Simplify employee time – both on and off the clock

Spending one or two hours each week to manage the communications, written requests, approvals, and payroll for paid time off and sick leave just doesn’t make sense for local construction and field services businesses. Automating this critical human resource task opens up better productivity and allows crews – both in the field and in the office, to get more done and keep a focus on your customers.

It’s never been simpler to see if PTO software can help your business. Just start your free trial of ClockShark to see how mobile time tracking, employee scheduling and paid time off management will make your life easier and employees happier.

Author: ClockShark

ClockShark is the #1 time tracking and scheduling app for construction and field service companies.

ClockShark is the #1 time tracking and scheduling app for construction and field service companies! To learn more check out the video below. To get a free 14-day trial visit


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