Get Rid of PTO Management Headaches Once and For All with Slack

Slack Best Practices May 6, 2024

Every HR professional and manager knows that scheduling can be a pain. One of the sources of the headache comes from time off requests. Handling it correctly requires a lot of work, communication, and strategy. However, there are tools out there that can make a difference in your workflow. Slack has many powerful features that allow you to take charge of your PTO management, automate critical processes and save time. Let’s talk about how you can take better control of your time off requests and make your employees happier without sacrificing the needs of your business.

The Challenges of Traditional PTO Management

These are some of the most pervasive challenges when it comes to PTO management:

  • Time-consuming processes: the paperwork and approval processes can be lengthy and tedious.
  • User-friendly interfaces: if there are digital forms and platforms for employees to initiate the PTO request process, those interfaces should be intuitive and easy to use.
  • Integration: PTO request features should integrate as well as possible with Slack’s features.

Mitigating all of these challenges is our primary objective. Let’s explore more about how we can approach these challenges with Slack’s unique features.

Why Slack and CultureBot Are the Perfect Solution for Managing PTO

Slack is a platform your team is likely already using. It has a powerful suite of features to help your team communicate and collaborate on your projects. Its intuitive and easy-to-use interface makes using it very comfortable, and since it’s where your team talks about work every day, it’s a great place to think about incorporating PTO processes.

One of Slack’s greatest strengths is its integrations. You can incorporate helpful apps into your workspace that can help you accomplish your goals. One of the best Slack apps out there is CultureBot, an app focused on helping you engage your teams and improve your team culture. It’s a powerful ally for HR professionals using Slack, and it can help you manage your PTO as well. Let’s talk more about how you can use them together to make a difference in your PTO management strategy.

Setting Up Slack and CultureBot for PTO Management

We recommend following along with us in this guide by adding CultureBot to your Slack workspace or a test workspace for free so you can get a taste for how you can better streamline your PTO management. Check out our Getting Started page to learn more about how to get the app added.

Once you’ve got CultureBot added, let’s start by creating a dedicated PTO channel in Slack. This is where your team will be able to make time off requests. Choose a clear and concise channel name and create guidelines on how it should be used. Invite relevant team members and stakeholders to the channel so they can manage it and see requests.

Setting up Slack Out-of-Office (OOO) and Vacation Mode

When employees are using PTO or aren’t working on a particular day, it’s a good idea to remind your team to use Slack’s out-of-office (OOO) and vacation mode features. By setting a custom status, team members can passively communicate to their colleagues that they are unavailable and will respond to messages as soon as they are back on the clock.

Integrating CultureBot into Your PTO Process

Whether your PTO process is automated or relatively human-driven in your PTO channel, CultureBot can help you improve the process along the way. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re collecting feedback from you team about how they feel about the time off request process. Use CultureBot to toss in regular surveys into your PTO channel to gauge opinions about the process. You can also use CultureBot to automatically post messages in the PTO channel to remind people about upcoming holidays or events so that team members don’t forget to request time off before it’s too late.

How to Set Up Regular PTO Process Surveys with CultureBot

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Here are some steps on how to incorporate CultureBot’s surveys into your PTO channel:

  1. Navigate to the CultureBot home tab.
  2. Find the Team Health Forms & Surveys heading and click View/Add Forms & Campaigns.
  3. Click Create New Form.
  4. Select the blank template and fill in the information as needed, such as the title and questions you want to ask employees about the PTO process.
  5. Save the form, then navigate to the Campaigns tab and click Create New Campaign.
  6. On this screen you can determine how your team will receive the survey, when it should be sent, and who receives the results. You can send the survey regularly or only once.

Setting up a PTO process survey like this can help you identify ways to improve and will make your team feel heard and recognized.

Communicating Decisions and Updates in Slack

Appropriately communicating about decisions related to time off requests and PTO is critical to the engagement and morale of your team. Here are some tips to make sure you’re keeping everyone in the loop:

  • Be consistent about what threads you use to communicate about time off requests and PTO. This will help make sure there are no surprises and will make discussions accessible to everyone.
  • Provide clear and timely feedback. Don’t leave any room for misinterpretation. Be consistent with the quality and timeliness of your feedback.
  • Make sure that all stakeholders are informed about PTO requests and decisions.

Handling Overlapping or Conflicting Requests

One of the main reasons that PTO requests can be a pain is because of conflicting interests. The best way to approach this problem is to establish clear prioritization criteria. A great way to think about this is with tools like the Eisenhower Matrix, which can help your team make decisions on when tasks should be done and who should be doing them.

Eisenhower Matrix


Not Urgent


Do Now


Not Important



Rank your tasks by urgency and importance, and follow the matrix above to decide how to best approach them. When applied to PTO requests, you can better negotiate when team members should be taking time off and how to achieve your goals when some of your team isn’t available.

Support Your PTO Management Process with CultureBot

So far, we’ve seen a number of helpful ways that CultureBot can help your PTO management process. For example:

  • Running PTO process surveys to see your team’s thoughts and ideas.
  • Setting reminders to make sure your team has their Slack availability status set accordingly.
  • Setting reminders to make sure that team members have requests in on time.

With these best practices, you can build a culture of responsibility, communication, and timeliness that keeps your team happier and more productive.

Embracing the Future of PTO Management with Slack and CultureBot

PTO processes are notorious for being challenging for HR teams and managers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By effectively using Slack and CultureBot’s tools, you can streamline your time off request processes. Slack’s Out of Office and Vacation Mode features are an easy way to help inform the rest of the team of an absence. Meanwhile, CultureBot’s feedback collection capabilities can help you hear the voices of your team and improve your process. In addition, CultureBot’s reminder capabilities can help you engage your team to make sure requests are sent in a timely manner and that team members are setting the appropriate Out of Office statuses.

Does an efficient and streamlined PTO process that doesn’t result in headaches sound like a good vision for your team? Book a demo today to see how CultureBot can help!


Can I Put an Out of Office Message on Slack?

Yes! Here’s how you can set an out of office message on Slack:

  1. Go to your profile by clicking your profile picture in the lower left on desktop. On mobile, tap on your profile picture.
  2. Click Status or Update your status.
  3. Enter or select your status, you can use a custom status if you prefer.
  4. Use the Remove status after option to automatically remove the chosen status at a specific point in time. You might set this to when you return from vacation.

Does Slack Have a Vacation Mode?

Yes, you can set a custom status to indicate to your colleagues that you’re on vacation and are unavailable to read messages.

How Do I Set an Away Schedule in Slack?

You can either set a custom status or you can set your work hours to set your away schedule. If you only need to set an away schedule for a short period of time like a vacation, set a custom status with a defined end date. If you need to set an away schedule for working hours, you can set up a daily Do Not Disturb schedule on Slack.


Oswald Reaves

A serial startup founder and entrepreneur, Oswald is a co-founder of the Slack-based employee experience and team engagement platform, CultureBot . Oswald is originally from North Carolina.