Woman working on an employee scheduling guide

Employee Scheduling Guide And Template For Business Owners

Putting together an effective team schedule is time-consuming, but a custom scheduling template can shave hours off the task. However, saving time isn’t the only way to simplify the process. In this employee scheduling guide, we discuss tips to help you streamline your work.

Why A Custom Employee Schedule Is Essential

The first step toward simplifying your employee scheduling process is to create your own template. Let’s take a look at why this is important.

1) Satisfy Business Needs

No two schedules are exactly the same. Sure, several different businesses may base their staff rota on the same basic structure. But each business will tweak the schedule slightly — adding or subtracting information here and there — to satisfy their unique needs.

So, even though all the schedules are essentially just calendars, the information they present will differ from one business to the next.

For example, Business A may schedule their employees to perform different jobs on different days (e.g., server on Monday, host on Tuesday, food runner on Wednesday, etc.), while Business B may schedule their employees to perform the same job all week.

Not every standard schedule template you download off the internet will reflect that difference. When you build your own custom template, you’ll be better able to satisfy the needs of your team and your business.

2) Save Time

We touched on this at the beginning of the article, but one of the most important reasons to create a template before beginning your employee scheduling process is to save time.

When you have a blank schedule tailored to your business ready to go, you don’t have to spend an hour or more preparing the form before you actually get to the task of filling in names and times.

Fiddling with document margins, color schemes, field sizes, and other formatting issues can be a tedious job. If you have to reset those variables every time you sit down to create a new roster, the scheduling process will take longer than it should.

When you base your scheduling efforts on a custom form, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel — or, in this case, remake the calendar — every single time.

Instead, you can pull up a copy of the schedule on your computer or retrieve a copy from your filing cabinet and get directly to filling it out.

Employee Scheduling Guide: Essential Components

Calendar with pins

Even though no two employee schedules are exactly the same, they all contain a number of essential components, including:

  • Dates
  • Days of the week
  • Employee names
  • A way to show work hours or shifts
  • Business hours
  • Manager contact information

These elements form the core of every finalized schedule. The only real difference between Business A’s schedule and Business B’s schedule is how they present and customize this basic data and whether or not they include more information.

With those essential components in mind, we’ll now discuss some best practices to help you make your schedule the best it can be.

Employee Scheduling Guide: Best Practices

Monthly planner for scheduling

1) Make The Schedule Easy To Read

One of the best things you can do for your team is to make the schedule easy to read.

Once you’ve filled in names, dates, and shifts, it should only take a few seconds for a team member to figure out three key pieces of information:

  1. What days they’re working
  2. What hours they’re working
  3. The jobs they’ll be performing

If it takes longer than 30 seconds to find that information, your staff rota is too complicated.

Here’s an effective way to test the simplicity of your schedule:

  1. After filling in all of the necessary information, set it aside for a few minutes while you do something else.
  2. During this time, pull up a stopwatch on your phone or computer.
  3. Before you look at the schedule again, think of an employee.
  4. With that employee in mind, start the stopwatch and then glance back at the schedule to determine when they’ll be working during the coming week.

Finding that information should take 30 seconds or less. If it takes longer, you may need to simplify your schedule.

2) Format The Schedule As A Table

Another thing you can do to make your employee schedule easy to decipher is to format it as a table with rows and columns like a calendar.

Your team members are used to reading days, weeks, and months in this manner, so finding when they work from a familiar format (a table or calendar) will be second nature to them.

3) Try To Fit The Schedule On One Page

employee scheduling guide

If your business has a lot of employees, fitting an entire month on one page may not be possible, but you may be able to fit one or two weeks on a single page.

At the very least, try to format the template so that a full week (Monday through Sunday) falls on a single page.

4) Save A Blank Copy

Once you have the employee schedule set up and formatted to your satisfaction, save a blank copy before you start filling in names, dates, and shifts. This will serve as your template for all future scheduling efforts.

Save the schedule with a descriptive name that is different from the name you give to your final staff rota.

For example, if you name your final schedule as 2022_June_Schedule, save the blank schedule (the template) as something completely different, such as Employee Scheduling_Template.

When it’s time to create the staff roster for a new month, open the blank schedule and immediately save it under a new name (e.g., 2022_July_Schedule). That way, you won’t accidentally enter information in the blank schedule and have to delete it the next time around.

5) Color Code For Clarity

Too many words and numbers packed into a small space can be extremely difficult to read and decipher. One way you can avoid this issue is to color code certain pieces of information on the schedule itself.

For example, instead of writing numbers that pertain to hours worked in the template, you could assign each block of time its own unique color. Then, it’s just a matter of coloring squares to indicate when an employee works.

Here’s a finished schedule that demonstrates this concept:

Employee scheduling guide template

Free Employee Scheduling Template

In this section of our employee scheduling guide, we’ve created a simple blank schedule that you can use as the foundation of your customization efforts — or, just use it as-is.

Below the template itself, we’ve provided some tips on how to fill in your information for the best effect.

Employee Scheduling Template from Getsling.com

Start by filling in the dates for the month under the corresponding days of the week. So, if the first falls on a Wednesday, insert a “1” under the first WED, a “2” under THUR, a “3” under FRI, and so on.

Then, write your employee names in the left-hand column — preferably in alphabetical order so they’re easier to find. Finally, list the shifts each employee works under the corresponding day and date.

As effective as this simple employee schedule is, there’s still a better way to organize your team.

A Better Way To Schedule

A better way to scheduling with Sling

As we’ve discussed in this employee scheduling guide, creating your own customized employee schedule is the right way to go.

But, if you try to set up that schedule in an app that wasn’t built to handle the complexities of business organization — like a word processor, spreadsheet, or personal calendar — you’ll be making your job more difficult than it has to be.

Luckily, there are software solutions like Sling that take care of businesses like yours. Using an employee scheduling software can significantly reduce the time and effort it takes to create an efficient schedule for your team.

To learn more about how Sling can help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, track and calculate work hours, and control labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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