How to Choose the Best Holiday Tracker (+Template)

Are you looking for a staff holiday tracker for your organisation? Efficiently tracking holidays can be a big challenge for managers and HR teams alike.

In this quick guide, we’ll walk you through the best options for holiday trackers and even offer our own template (and solution) for tracking holidays for your team.

Skip right to the chase and download our staff holiday planner template today.

What Is a Holiday Tracker?

A holiday tracker helps organisations see which employees have taken time off, when they took it, whether they’re taking enough and how much they have left. It can also help you have an eye on who has holidays coming up in the future, so you can plan schedules and other resources.

Most organisations will have employees who are entitled to some amount of holiday per year, so tracking across teams and the whole company is key to staying organised.

Why Does Your Organisation Need a Holiday Tracker?

HR professionals and managers are generally in charge of managing PTO (paid time off) and holiday requests. These can be highly dreaded tasks due to the amount of time required and the fact that they can pop up at any time.

Many organisations still track and manage holidays with a manual process that includes steps like:

  • Checking whether the employee is eligible for the amount of holiday they are requesting. With a manual system, employees can’t check their available PTO balance themselves, so the manager or HR team has to do it.

  • Aligning with the employee’s manager on their current projects to see if anything will be negatively impacted by their absence. (This doesn’t necessarily mean their request should be denied, but it’s good to know in advance how operations will be impacted.)

  • Looking at the holiday tracker to check for overlapping PTO requests (i.e. if other employees have requested holiday at the same time). Organisations will often try to minimise overlap so the team doesn’t struggle with too many concurrent absences.

  • If the holiday is approved, adding the dates to the holiday tracker and doing any necessary planning for the employee’s absence.

Having a holiday tracker is crucial to stay organised with the PTO of all employees.

What Are the Downsides of Tracking Holidays Manually?

When handled manually, the process of tracking holidays has a multitude of downsides:

  • Time-intensive – As you can see from the steps listed above, manually tracking holidays takes up a lot of time for the responsible admin. It also means the employee likely has to wait longer to find out if their holiday has been approved.

  • Too much effort – The manual process adds unnecessary complications and requires more effort from the admin.

  • Error-prone – Trying to remember the holiday requests someone asked for in the hallway or on Slack can lead to mistakes. So can manually entering dates into a tracker or checking PTO allowances against old contract documents.

  • Distracting – All of the tasks required to track holidays manually are simply a distraction from other valuable work. The time spent and errors made can disrupt operations and decrease the productivity of the HR team.

  • Compliance challenges – There are likely regulations around holiday time in your jurisdiction that need to be complied with. Manual tracking could leave the organisation vulnerable to legal action and fines.

Should You Use a Holiday Tracker Software or Spreadsheet?

Now that we’ve covered the many downsides to manually tracking holidays, let’s discuss the other options: a spreadsheet or holiday tracker software. There are pros and cons to both of these choices, including:

Holiday Tracker Type:




Easy to use (plug and play option)

Little to no up-front investment

A high average adoption rate of Excel (your average employee knows how to use it)

Difficult to scale with headcount

Less data security

File risks becoming messy or unusable


More nuanced way to request and track absences

Better oversight of more absence types

Available reporting on absences

Potentially low adoption rates amongst staff

Higher costs for a very specific function

Could risk decentralising overall employee data

Note: You can download your own staff holiday tracker template by clicking this link. It comes in the form of a handy Excel sheet which you can use to track when people are out of the office – it even comes complete with bank holidays.

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Absence Timeline

Seamless absence tracking that scales with your headcount. See how Personio can help your team with absences today.

How Do You Choose the Right Holiday Tracker?

So, which holiday tracker is right for your organisation? 

For a small or growing team, using a spreadsheet template to track staff holidays may be a good place to start. But, it’s easy to see how it can be messy, less secure, and lead to unnecessary errors that impact your employees.

A specialised software for tracking PTO has many benefits, but some organisations may find the cost prohibitive or duplicative of what you can get from a more all-in-one HR software.

While a comprehensive HR system is typically not free and will take time to implement, it has a number of significant benefits:

  • Completely centralised and secure data

  • Linked with other employee data and relevant reporting and analytics

  • Tracking every kind of absence type with maximum transparency

An all-in-one HR software is often the best option for tracking holidays. Being able to see all information on employees and plan absences in one place is a big help to managers and HR teams, and integrations with tools like Google Calendar and Slack can help the rest of the team know when people are away from work.

The best part about a comprehensive solution is the opportunity for more employee self-service. In an HRIS like Personio, employees can request their own holidays, managers can approve, and it all gets logged in one handy location. HR has all of the visibility with vastly reduced effort and stress.

We hope our holiday tracker template helps, but we’d also suggest booking a demo with one of our Personio experts to talk about our absence management platform and how it can pull together all your pressing HR data.

Start Tracking Absences Today

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