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Global Travel Reopening: Explore A Smarter Way to Handle Leave Requests!

With the end of the pandemic is finally in sight, more and more countries have begun to ease their domestic lockdown and social distancing measures. After “trapping” locally for more than two years, the demand for international travel is expected to surge as much as 50% for the next few months since the Hong Kong Government announced the “0+3” quarantine arrangement in September, according to the Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council. Also, with the reopening of Japan’s border to independent foreign travelers with visa-free entry from October, hundreds of Hong Kongers undaunted by expensive air tickets have dashed to Japan on the first day of its reopening. It is therefore foreseeable that HR will need to handle an increasing number of leave requests and accumulated leave balance enquiries in the coming months and year.

Are you still struggling with the old ways of handling leave requests?

Without the help of an effective HR system and mobile app, the process of handling leave applications can be cumbersome. The process starts with employees checking their leave balance with the HR and submitting their applications on paper forms. Upon receipt of the applications, HR needs to double check the requested leave types, balance and period for each employee while updating leave records in Excel manually. Moreover, it often happens that HR/managers do not have a holistic view of the leave schedule of their employees, it is particularly difficult for them to spot overlapping leave requests and arrange manpower effectively especially under holiday seasons.

To proceed the requests further, HR also needs to arrange signatories with approvers. If there are multi approval levels, the processing time will be even longer. Such manual handling, which can be complex and error prone, not only results in long processing time, but also increases HR workload of handling piles of paper forms and enquiries.

Common HR struggles in post-COVID era

Accumulated leaves

Since the global outbreak of pandemic, many companies have changed their leave policy to cater the new modes of working and needs of their employees, for example, one-off leave accumulation allowance or temporary carried forward (CF) leave policy, which allow their employees who have unused annual leaves (AL) towards the end of the period of entitlement to roll over the remaining AL to the next period by a specific number of months or years. Despite the friendliness of the arrangement, both HR and employees themselves may often lose track of the total number of CF leaves accumulated over the “Covid” years without the help of an effective HR system to maintain accurate records. Particularly for HR, it is difficult to handle frequent changes of leave policies from time to time in response to social changes and the latest pandemic development. For instance, if the entitlement period of AL is extended, HR may need to update the records one by one, including new entitlement period and total of AL accumulated, for each employee. Moreover, in view of the reopening of global travel, it is expected that the leave requests will increase significantly due to strong demand for travel. HR needs to get prepared for a huge number of paper applications and enquiries in the coming months. Without the help of a HR system and mobile app, the process can be error prone and time consuming due to the complex manual workflow.

Frequent change of leave requests

Another common scenario often faced by HR nowadays is the frequent changes of leave requests due to unstable flight schedules and sudden implementation of travel restrictions locally and internationally. Unable to depart, employees need to change their leave period, even cancel the leave requests or extend their holidays. Such changes further increase HR workload to handle repeated applications and cancellation.

Sudden leave requests due to quarantine or compulsory testing

With the implementation of compulsory testing of COVID-19 and quarantine arrangements locally, many HR have been facing sudden leave requests from their employees to comply with the arrangement. Also, as international business trips and events resume, international travel and collaboration become more frequent. If employees get infected along their journey, they may need to extend their trip and apply for urgent sick leaves to undergo quarantine, compulsory testing or medical surveillance arrangements specified by the local authorities. To handle such emergencies, a more flexible system and mobile HR is extremely vital. Employees can inform of the situation and send leave requests via mobile app immediately without any delay.

Mobile workforce on the go: Switching to mobile HR

To respond to the increasingly mobile workforce in post-COVID era, where international travel and business trips are more frequent, it is crucial for HR to equip a flexible and effective HR system with mobile app to allow their employees access to self service anytime and anywhere on their go. With mobile app, no matter the employee is working abroad, onsite or traveling, they are able to access most HR services, including leave application, claim application or clock in/out, with their own mobile devices. In case of the aforesaid emergency situations, leave requests can be made immediately without any delay. Most importantly, the system will update the leave calendar and balance as a reference for HR/managers to approve or decline the requests for better manpower control. Here are some of the main features of an effective HR system with mobile app that can help HR streamline tedious and cumbersome leave management workflow:

Leave calendar

Allowing users to check the leave requests from the entire team or company in a monthly or weekly grid at a glance, an HR system and mobile app offers a holistic view of the leave schedule of the workforce and empower HR to have better control over manpower. Also, the leave balance of each employee can be displayed as a reference for HR to approve or decline applications to avoid operation disruption and short-handed situations due to overlapping leaves .

Automated calculation of leave balance

Taking CF leave, compensation leave or other special leave entitled into account, an HR system can calculate the total AL entitlement and balance for each employee according to customized leave policies. With such automation, HR can not only save the time and effort used for maintaining manual record and calculation, but also eliminate human error, maintaining accurate leave balance records.

Customized leave policies/types HR system and mobile app can cater for any changes of leave policies including addition of new leave types, increase of AL, extension of CF leaves etc. Among all, the addition of quarantine leaves and extension of entitlement period of CL leave are the most common changes in recent years in response to the latest pandemic development and government policies. HR can update all one-off or permanent changes via the system at one go, saving them the trouble of manual calculation, cross checking and input of data for each employee which further streamline HR workflow.


As global travel and business trips resume, managers may need to grant approval rights to others to help with the review of leave applications as well as other kinds of requests from the team. Under such circumstances, HR may find the “Delegation” function comes in handy. It allows managers to transfer their approval right within a certain period so that they can enjoy their holidays or focus on their work abroad. In case of any emergencies, managers can also extend or change the delegation setting anytime and anywhere with their mobile devices.

Push notifications

One of the biggest advantages of using mobile HR is to bridge the communication gap across company, management, HR and employees through push notification. The system can automatically send out regular notifications to remind managers of the unapproved leave applications while updating the employees of their application status. Moreover, HR can announce any changes or updates of leave policies through push notifications. Employees can get instant alerts on their mobile devices which may boost the open rate as email reminders may be often overlooked in a sea of business emails.

Empower your HR Enhance your employee experience

Equipped with an HR system and mobile app with high flexibility, HR no longer need to worry about error prone workflow and manual calculation when handling leave requests and enquiries. In the face of any emergencies, unexpected situations or new business strategies that may require a change in HR policies, the system allows the flexibility to cater both regular and one-off adjustments to ensure the policy consistency. HR can also boost employee productivity with better manpower control through a holistic view of the leave calendar of their workforce. Most significantly, employees can enjoy a seamless experience when using mobile HR services anywhere and anytime on their go. Such digital transformation not only brings extra convenience to the employees, but also enhances mobility and control of the workforce.

Want more on the new mobile trend in 2023? Don’t miss our next issue about claims! If you would like to learn more about the features of BridgeBuilder HRMS Mobile App and how it can enhance your attendance policy, please click HERE for a complete guide or contact us at 3798 4400.



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