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How To Create An Employee Schedule Template

employee schedule template

As a manager, does it seem like some parts of your job are never done? You look around and think, “I just did that!” Then you have to carve time out of your busy schedule and take time away from more important issues to repeat tasks over and over again. It can be incredibly frustrating.

Few things in a manager’s work life are as repetitive as employee scheduling. But despite the need to constantly schedule, there is a way to simplify the process so that it’s not as difficult or time-consuming as it once was. How is that possible? With the help of an employee schedule template.

The experts at Sling are here to show you how this kind of template can free up your time so you can deal with more important managerial problems, like accounting, interviewing, marketing, and hiring. Along the way, we’ll address such issues as:

  • Why an employee schedule template is important.
  • What essential items to include in your template.
  • How to create your own schedule template.

We’ll also show you how to use your computer or mobile device to harness the power and versatility of Sling to make the scheduling process easier than ever. Before we do that, though, let’s discuss why it’s important to have an employee schedule template in the first place.

The Importance Of An Employee Schedule Template

Clock for scheduling staff members

Why should you create a standard employee schedule template for your business? Because your employee schedule is a reflection of the needs of your company and the employees who work there. As such, the information on your employee schedule may be completely different from the information on another business’s employee schedule.

For example, your employees may perform different jobs on different days. Not every template will reflect that change. You’ll need to design one that does.

A custom-made employee schedule template also reduces the amount of time you have to spend preparing before you get to the actual task of scheduling. You’ll no longer have to remake the calendar every single time. Instead, your custom employee schedule template is stored on your computer or in a filing cabinet so that all you have to do is fill it out.

Essential Items To Include In Your Employee Schedule Template

Using a employee schedule template

At its most basic, your employee schedule template should include the following information:

  • A week or two-weeks worth of days
  • Employee names
  • Date of each day displayed
  • Business hours
  • Business or manager contact information
  • A way to show work hours (e.g., a numerical time range, an X in the hours being worked, a bar that spans work time)

The employee names, dates, business hours, and contact information should be printed on the periphery of the schedule. That way, the only information on the calendar itself is the work hours. If possible, we also suggest formatting your employee schedule as a table and making use of color coding and images (of employees) to make it easy to read.

However you choose to format your employee schedule, keep the template simple. It should only take a few seconds for an employee to figure out:

  • What day she’s working
  • What hours she’s working
  • The job she’ll be performing

If it takes longer than a minute to decipher that information, your employee schedule template is too complicated.

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

  1. Get an old copy of a schedule and a stopwatch. Try not to look at the schedule too closely as you do.
  2. Set the schedule aside for a moment while you answer an email or walk through the dining room.
  3. Before you look at the employee schedule again, choose an employee.
  4. With that employee in mind, start the stopwatch and then glance back at the schedule to determine when she will be working the next day.

You should be able to figure out that employee’s schedule for the next week in 30 seconds or less. If you can’t do that, your template needs to be simplified.

How To Create An Employee Schedule Template

employee schedule template example

The easiest way to create your own simple employee schedule template, like the one shown above, is to use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program. It may take a bit of time to get everything exactly the way you need it, but once it’s done, the scheduling process will be much simpler going forward.

There are hundreds of templates online, and a simple search for “employee schedule template” will reveal a number of useful options. Most will need to be modified to best suit your needs. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Search “employee schedule template.”
  2. Make sure the template is compatible with your software.
  3. Download your favorite option.
  4. Open the template with your spreadsheet software.
  5. Most templates come pre-populated with names, dates, times, and jobs so you will need to change that information to reflect your business.
  6. Click one of the employee name cells and enter a new name. Repeat this process until all employees are listed.
  7. We strongly suggest keeping the order of the names the same on every schedule. That way, employees can find their work hours faster.
  8. Add or remove rows by right-clicking and inserting or deleting as necessary.
  9. Save your work.
  10. Next, change the work hours to reflect the shifts your business uses.
  11. Save your work.
  12. We also suggest changing the color-coding of each shift.
  13. Save your work.
  14. If you need to list the specific job that each employee is performing, we suggest including it in the name field.
  15. Finally, include your business name, business contact numbers, year, and any other information that is pertinent around the outside of your employee schedule template.
  16. Save your work.
  17. Distribute your new schedule.

Get creative with this process and we’re sure you’ll develop an employee schedule template that is perfect for your business.

How To Use Your Employee Schedule Template

man using employee schedule template on mobile phone

Once you’ve finalized your scheduling template and are ready to put it to use, there are several key tips to remember that will make your job easier.

Tip #1

Build shifts around your best employees. Making this fact the cornerstone of your scheduling process means that you’ll always have a core of experience on every shift. Because of that, you can be confident that the shift will run smoothly and your less-experienced employees can learn from their more-experienced teammates.

Tip #2

Get to know your employees so that you know what their strengths and weaknesses are. This will make it easier to put the right person in the right shift. It also helps you know when your employees can and cannot work. That brings us to the next variable.

Tip #3

Honor each employee’s shift preferences and time-off requests whenever possible. Doing so serves to create a sense of goodwill among your employees. It also increases employee engagement and satisfaction, which can help you retain good workers longer.

When your employees know that they can get a day off to handle personal issues, they’re less likely to start looking for a different job that will fit their schedule better.

Tip #4

Distribute the schedule as soon as possible. Work/life balance is crucial for your employees’ overall happiness. If you hold the employee schedule back until the last minute, they won’t have a chance to plan their personal activities. Their job satisfaction will decrease and your business will suffer.

Distributing the employee schedule as soon as it’s available also gives you plenty of time to make changes before the shifts go into effect. That will save you extra work and added stress later on by avoiding last-minute substitutions and no-call, no-show employees.

Tip #5

Let your employees schedule themselves. Providing your employees the opportunity to pick their own shifts is a great way to keep them engaged and allows them to tailor their schedules around other parts of their personal lives.

If letting your employees have free rein when it comes to scheduling makes you nervous, try scheduling one or two of your best employees (see variable #1) on each shift, and then give the other employees the chance to fill in around them.

After a few days, review the choose-your-own-shift schedule, make any necessary changes, then finalize it and send it out.

If that sounds complicated, it’s really not…with the right tools, of course. Apps like Sling allow you to create a master template that everyone can access online. There, they can choose their shifts and fill in around the set employees you scheduled.

Then you can close the document (so they can’t make any more changes), switch things up if necessary, and then make it available to your employees again.

Tip #6

Make it mandatory that employees find their own substitutes. Without an efficient system in place, finding a substitute for an employee who can’t work can be a time-consuming chore. You immediately have to start calling and texting all of your employees who aren’t working to see if they are willing to give up their day off to cover another shift.

And chances are, you may not find anyone who is available to come in, so your shift is still short-staffed. That’s a big waste of time during which you could be focusing on more important tasks.

So instead of doing all the work yourself, give your employees the responsibility of finding their own substitute to cover their shift when they can’t work. This is an effective way to make sure you have enough employees on the job at a given time, but it does require two key things:

  • A good communication network
  • A set of guidelines for choosing the replacement

A quick and easy communication network is the foundation for finding substitutes. Whether it’s you or your employees reaching out, calling each person individually takes precious time that could be better spent elsewhere.

The better solution is to establish a communication network based on text messaging or push notifications. The Sling app, for example, let’s you send one instant message to everyone associated with your business, or a specific group.

Employees can use this network to broadcast the need for a substitute. Employees who are willing to work can also use it to respond and volunteer for the shift.

In regard to guidelines for choosing replacements, here are two crucial principles that every employee handbook should contain:

  1. All substitutions have to be approved by the manager.
  2. All substitutions must have done the job before.

With those guidelines in place, you can be sure that giving your employees the responsibility of finding their own substitutes will be productive.

Tip #7

Use the best tool for the job. If you’ve ever tried to drive a nail with a screwdriver, you know the importance of using the best tools for the job at hand. Creating a work schedule is no different — the right tools can make the job easier and quicker to complete.

Even tools meant for other purposes (like Word or Excel) can streamline the process of creating an employee schedule template when compared to the age-old pen-and-paper method.

And now, with cloud computing spreading to every corner of the business world, free online versions of Word and Excel (e.g., Google Docs and Sheets) make the process even simpler.

So while you may already be using one or the other of these programs, is it really the best fit for the job? Is there a better option available? Yes, there is.

Special tools — like Sling — are specifically tailored to scheduling employees and creating employee schedule templates for businesses in industries like:

  • Food
  • Retail
  • Lodging
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment
  • Call centers
  • Education
  • Nonprofits
  • Emergency services
  • Caregiving
  • And a host of others

Apps like Sling contain powerful features that help make building your employee schedule template easier than ever before.

Because Sling is created specifically for scheduling, there is no complicated formatting necessary to get the template and the schedule looking the way you want it.

There’s no endless searching for a template that doesn’t quite work. There’s no trying to figure out a way to do something with a program that is made for a different purpose. All you have to do is focus on making the best schedule possible.

Tip #8

Include an availability chart. Sometimes an employee can’t find a substitute to cover their shift. When that happens, it’s up to you to find someone to work. It’s times like those when an availability chart makes the whole thing go so much smoother.

Emergencies will come up. It’s inevitable. But rather than leaving it all to chance, use an availability chart as your “plan B.”

The simplest version is just a list of each employee and what days and times they’re available to work. They may not be scheduled for all of those days and times and might be willing to pick up an extra shift here or there.

The more complicated version is another full schedule listing “on-call” employees who are available to work during each and every shift.

Ultimately, this simplifies the substitute process by taking the thought out of it. An availability chart can also reduce the stress involved when the need for a last-minute substitute arises.

Tip #9

Have a Plan C for your Plan B. No matter how carefully you plan your employee schedule template, something may still go wrong.

So even though you’ve got your availability chart that outlines employees who are available to work on short notice, you may need a backup to this backup — or a plan C to your plan B.

We recommend setting up a list of trusted and reliable part-time workers you can contact when all of your other options have failed.

These workers may be former employees who left on good terms or prospective employees who interviewed but didn’t get hired. You may think these people would never be willing to come in on such short notice, but you never know until you ask.

Tip #10

Communicate with your team. Communication is vital in any business. When it comes to scheduling, it can mean the difference between having enough employees to cover a shift and being short-staffed.

Establishing a team-wide communication method makes it easy for you and your employees to know exactly where to look for your work schedule.

There’s no more searching through email, instant message, and texting apps to find the newest work schedule or that time-off request you need. Everyone uses the same tool, so everyone’s on the same page.

We recommend setting up a team-wide communication method right away. With most people using smartphones these days, your best bet is to choose a method that makes use of this ubiquitous technology.

Texting is one such method. Instant messaging is another. But even those quick and easy communication methods still come with a long list of difficulties.

A better option is an app like Sling. These software programs couple powerful scheduling tools with equally powerful communication features. This allows you to improve internal communication through push notifications, chatting, and photo sharing.

Plus, all of the information is stored in one place. If an employee asks for a day off, Sling automatically links that request to the employee in question. Then, when you go to access your employee schedule template and produce an actual work schedule, the software reminds you not to schedule the employee that day.

The Employee Schedule Template Can’t Do It All

A simple employee schedule template, like the one shown above, is ideal for getting started. It can reduce the headache of scheduling somewhat, but it still leaves much to be desired. This rudimentary employee schedule template does nothing to help with:

  • Finding substitutes
  • Tracking work hours
  • Distributing the schedule
  • Calculating work hours
  • Keeping track of time-off requests
  • Communicating with employees

Only one solution does all that and much more: Sling.

Sling Makes Scheduling Easy

Sling is an employee scheduler designed to bring order to the chaos. Sling simplifies all the issues that a manager could potentially face when scheduling employees.

But Sling is about more than just plugging names into time slots. It’s about making every aspect of your job — scheduling, distribution, communication — easier and faster.

Sling employee schedule template

The intuitive and well-organized scheduling tools Sling offers make it simple to create clear, easy-to-read schedules with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen. And Sling’s cloud-based platform streamlines the process of sending the schedule to everyone who needs it. Just post your schedule in the cloud for all to see

You can even control exactly who can view the schedule and who can make changes to it. All you have to do is give individuals permission or send them a link. They can then log in to Sling to view or edit the schedule anytime, anywhere.

Sling’s cloud-based program also provides a central location where employees can indicate when they’re available to work. Sling then displays reminders about double-bookings, time-off requests, and unavailability while you’re creating your schedule.

Sling features

But remember, Sling is about more than just scheduling. The app also offers powerful messaging and communication tools that let you contact all your employees at the same time, a specific group of employees, or just one person. This cuts down on the difficult task of covering no-shows and coordinating substitutes.

Sling’s integrated features (Shifts, Time Clock, Messages, Newsfeed, Tasks) reduce the time it takes to create and manage your business’s schedules and employees. In fact, Sling helps managers bring teams together, keep everyone informed and engaged, and build a better work culture.

Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you create an employee schedule. Don’t rely on overly-simplified templates that can’t address all your needs. Don’t conform your business to the features of a sub-standard employee scheduling program or template.

Instead, let Sling show you how easy scheduling can be. Visit today to try the Sling app for free.

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