7 ways how bad HR leave management system hurts your business

6 min readFeb 9, 2021


Depending on the company size, bad leave management can result in various degrees of business loss — from painstaking inconvenience to a total catastrophe.

Leave management in a small company can be usually done on-the-go with nearly all team members sitting in one room and cooperating closely. This type of management can be considered a “buddy-type”, when there is a kind of fraternity between all team members, boosting the spirit and motivation.

But with the growing size of the organization, “keeping the spirit” gets increasingly complicated. According to the Disability Management Employer Coalition survey, the number of healthcare-related (FMLA) leaves vastly increased with the number of employees. And so rises the number of employees fully dedicated to managing leaves.

With the rising numbers, the staff required to manage leaves (and the number of leaves to manage and coordinate) increase. In a company with no more than 100 employees, there are 3 health-related leaves to manage yearly, with an amount ranging from 1 to 17 depending on the company. In a company with more than 1000 employees, there is an average of 214 health-related leave days with some employees reporting up to 600 cases.

With the organization larger than 50 employees (but smaller than 100) it is most common to employ two people to manage leaves. Only 14% of organizations of this size afford to manage leaves without employing a dedicated specialist or a leave record management system.

But every leave comes with multiple threats for the company — from the compliance issues to the lack of a key competence in a key moment. So what are these threats exactly?

Worse business performance

Companies with bad leave management (or a bad hr leave software) suffer either overstaffing or understaffing — or sometimes both. With the unpredictability and the fluidity of available competence, the business owners feel pressure to hire more employees than it is necessary — just to be sure to keep the lights on in time of trouble.

On the other hand, though, there are skills that are relatively easy to replace, and unique ones, that cost much to find in the market and to maintain by keeping the specialist on board.

So in a time of crisis, a restaurant owner can find himself with many waiters but no chef on board.

Sticking to the example — in the understaffed company the employee cares only about sticking to the plan, not about the customer experience or the company performance. So the waiter will be rude and impatient and the food in the restaurant can be undercooked — both the waiter and the cooker have to push themselves to their limits.

This applies to every type of business, so no matter if one runs a software house, a startup, or any other company — bad staffing is nothing to be happy about.

Overtime and burnout

Overtime and burnout are just a step following the understaffing. Overworked employees tend to lose joy and a will to work. First, they just want to do their work and go out, but they need to stay longer or skip their leisure time.

The culture of overworking can be created even in a non-understaffed company, where high pressure exists. According to the Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index, up to 25% of Millennials are nervous and anxious about taking a leave. Up to 48% of them are not fully using their paid leave.

The source of the vacation-shaming culture is rooted deeply in the lack of leave management skills and the uncertainty about employee availability — so proper leave management and encouraging the employee to take a vacation is actually good for a company.

Increasing costs

With worse business performance and burnout come increasing costs — employees are getting sick from being overworked and customers are dissatisfied. The company can either ignore the issue (and slowly slide into oblivion) or pump up the expenditures to cover the problems.

Both ways are costly and lead to a downturn.

Unhappy employees (higher turnover)

The employee generates costs — and it is not only about the payroll. The initial cost of hiring and onboarding can be easily overlooked, yet it delivers a heavy blow for a company. According to the SHRM report, the average hiring process takes up to 42 days and stacks to up to $4129 per hire.

Of course, finding an entry-level position employee is way cheaper and faster than hiring a senior-level one. On the other hand, though, junior employees need guidance, while a skilled senior is usually a Texas Ranger — works solitaire with immense efficiency.

No matter if we speak about the junior or senior level employees, keeping them in the company is also a way to save money, and bad leave management that leads them to overwork and burnout is one of the easiest ways to make them leave. Or rather — run.

Legal risks

Apart from the employee-related risks that can easily drown the company, there is also a large group of legal risks associated with the leave management and lack of hr leave management software and clock in/out tool. Countries and US states vary regarding the leave system and employee rights, so staying compliant requires a good dose of knowledge. Also, the company needs to stay up-to-date with the changing legal environment.

Being uncompliant can end with being sued or fined. Apart from hard money costs, the situation delivers immense costs when it comes to company branding and reputation.

Lack of flexibility

It is tempting to think that the currently-used solution will be sufficient in a more demanding environment, be that a crisis, a scaled-up business, or a sudden need to augment the workforce with a group of freelancers.

Or a pandemic, in a less optimistic scenario.

In such an environment it is common to change the workforce in an agile way and with unsophisticated methods to manage the employees like a spreadsheet or pen-and-paper leave management, the company can suddenly find itself in a void.

And being in a void in the middle of a crisis is a clear way to get out of the business.

Poor, unclear, and insincere communication

Last but not least, with bad leave management, the company cannot take care of the most vital part of the business — staff management. And by that, there is chaos regarding the availability of leave days, who is going for a vacation, and when, or how many days there are left for each employee.

In the muddy waters of poor communication, the insincere people thrive, who seek an advantage in the unclear environment. So there are employees who abuse the leave policy and others who suffer from a lack of leave days.

And this is literally the worst way to manage people.


Leave management appears to be only a part of human resource management — it applies only when the employee wills to take a leave. But that’s not an entire truth. Leave management influences multiple elements of operations — from skill availability to internal communication, and doing that in a bad way can hurt multiple processes that would be great otherwise.

If you want to talk about your leave management and ways how you can improve it in your company, don’t hesitate to contact us now!

Originally published at https://calamari.io on February 9, 2021.




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