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How to convince your boss to get rid of holiday tracking spreadsheets

24 November 2020 6 min read

convince boss to move away from spreadsheets

Admitting that you’ve been struggling with one of your processes and convincing people of change can be a difficult conversation to have, especially with your boss (or decision-maker, budget holder).

But what’s even more difficult, is doing nothing. We see many HR administrators ‘struggle’ with managing holidays and sickness using paper and spreadsheet-based processes because: 

  • It works, OK-ish, sometimes
  • They aren’t sure how to sell change internally
  • It appears to be free (it isn’t !

So here are our SIX top tips for influencing change and for convincing your boss (who we are assuming for the purpose of this article is the decision-maker), that doing nothing is not an option.  

  1. Look at this through your boss’ eyes

We all see the world from our own perspective and are therefore inherently self-centered. Whilst this can sound bad, it’s not. It’s evolution’s way of keeping us safe. So, working out a way to frame what you want in a way that will seem beneficial to your boss is key. The last thing they will want is for you to approach them with a ‘you problem’ and no solutions. So, before you approach them, work out what the real problems are, and how they impact your boss. In the case of using spreadsheets and forms to manage absence, it’s likely that the issues might include:  

Your problem Your boss’ problem  
It’s soaking up a lot of your time, populating the spreadsheet and updating it on an ad hoc basis once sickness and holiday requests come in.  


Improving how their team performs will be high on their agenda. High performing teams work smarter, work on the right things, and generate more value for the business. All of which make your boss look good. 
It’s prone to human error, if you make one typo, one wrong calculation, etc. there could be all sorts of trouble ahead. Compliance isn’t a very sexy topic, but it is SO IMPORTANT. The last thing your boss will want is a data breach, GDPR issues, or for anyone in the business to think HR is incompetent.  


You’re forever responding to staff about their holiday entitlement information, the absence policy, and paid time off queries…    Automation and self-service are quicker for staff and therefore they are more likely to look favorably on the department as a whole = boss looks good. It also means you get more free time to work on that reporting they asked you to do.  


You have no idea how much sick leave people are taking unless you dive into each person’s data individually, so you don’t know where your team could be supporting people.Business X down the road is providing better care to its employees. They are being proactive about how to spot early warning signs and are actively supporting staff through periods of sickness, helping them to feel more engaged when they return to work. If you’re not doing this, your boss will have FOMO.   

You have no idea how much absence is costing your business – and dread the day someone asks you to find out (like, how?!) 


If the business doesn’t know what you’re absence is costing, then there’s a gap in overall departmental cost-effectiveness. If your boss isn’t asking, you need to be asking. What gets managed, gets measured.  


2. Create urgency

If you’ve used holiday tracking spreadsheets and found like most, that you’re been having a bit of a nightmare with them, you will need change, and you will need it quickly. The best way to create a sense of urgency is through comparison and scarcity thinking – otherwise known as FOMO.  FOMO is a scientifically proven phenomenon defined by Dr. Andrew K. Przybylski, a research fellow at Oxford University, as 

“A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.” If your boss thinks that others might be using something better, with better results, they will be sure to take note… which leads me to my next point.  

3. Show and tell stories

From birth, we have learned to believe stories and remember them with far greater detail than we do statistics and facts. Throw a load of facts at your boss and they will be impressed for a few minutes – tell them a story and they’ll remember it for far longer and be more motivated to support you. Case studies are a great way of doing this – that’s why every good marketer will showcase their case studies on their website. Here are a few Edays‘ customer stories. Find the ones that most reflect your own brand, industry, or size and share them far and wide.  

4. Build strength in numbers  

Many people in your organization will benefit from the business using a more intuitive absence management solution. So, whether it’s the payroll administrator, the rewards and benefits team, or simply other employees, build yourself a network of others that can see its benefits. The more people that believe in your cause, the harder it will be to say no to.  

5. Pick your moment

Asking for an hour of your boss’ time just as they have become available from a meeting might not get you the results you want. Instead, plan in time. Provide an agenda, stick to time, and run through your case. Provide them with the issue (remember, the boss problem), the potential solutions, and what you need from them. If they are a details person, give them detail. If they prefer to see images, show them! Know your audience.  

6. Use the help of a supplier

By now, if you’ve made sense of your problems, you’ll have done a bit of homework on how to solve it. Always ask your supplier to give you the tools you need to bring your boss in on the solution. Why spend time trying to sell something you want, when a good supplier will give you everything you need to do this. If this sounds like you, speak to uswe’d be happy to help.

If you need to move away from tracking holiday and staff sickness through spreadsheets, we’d love to help show you how. We’re only a click away.

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Harry Customer Success Manager at edays
November 24, 2020

Harry is Head of Customer Success here at edays, helping organisations to get the very best out of their edays system. His experience in SaaS and HR brings valuable insight into how organisations can better manage their people, processes and productivity.