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Tips and templates for creating a work schedule in Excel

Creating a work schedule is no easy. Whether your team of employees is as large as a few dozen or as small as a handful, finding a way to fit everyone's hours, hit minimums, and keep the team happy is tough. Fortunately, Excel can help make it a lot easier.

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5 important tips when making a schedule

Before you dive into the actual programming process, keep the following considerations in mind. They will make the whole process easier and reduce the amount of stress that builds up on you. Programming will never be easy, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare.

Know the preferences of your employees.. The kind of preferences you can consider when scheduling varies from field to field (for example, retail vs. warehouse), but it's important to at least try to accommodate your workers.

Do some employees have a penchant for mornings? Or maybe the nights? How many hours does each employee want per week? Are there time constraints, such as an unwillingness to work on Sundays? Do some employees have synergy and compatibility?

You can't accommodate everyone , but it's a good target to shoot for because it can improve productivity and atmosphere, but more importantly, it will build trust, and trust goes hand in hand with respect.

Track employee leave requests. As if it wasn't hard enough to juggle all of your employee preferences, there are time-sensitive issues that will crop up from time to time. For example, someone needs a few days to take a vacation or mourn a lost family member.

Fortunately, this can be kept simple by using a versatile tool like Google Calendar 10. Awesome Google Calendar Features You Should Try 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features You Should Try Read More or a Calendar Plugin for Thunderbird 5 Extensions for add Calendars and Task Manager to Thunderbird 3 5 Extensions to add Calendars and Task Manager to Thunderbird 3 Read more. A quality to-do list app like Todoist (reasons to upgrade to Todoist Pro. How much more productive is ToDoist Premium? Here are 6 good reasons to upgrade How much more productive is ToDoist Premium? Here are 6 good reasons to upgrade I'm still using ToDoist free for a while. But I kept running into things I wanted to do and couldn't. Email Reminders. Adding Notes to Task. Things that would really add a lot… Read More), WorkFlowy (our review of WorkFlowy, Zen style Listing and Project Management with WorkFlowy Zen-Style Listing and Project Management with WorkFlowy Read More), or Wunderlist (our Wunderlist review Wunderlist:Easy to Use, Versatile, and Cross-Platform Wunderlist To-Do List Manager:Easy to Use The To-Do List Manager to-do lists, versatile and cross-platform (Read more) can also work well.

Make the schedule ahead of time.. Obviously you can't also well ahead of time in case situations change, but definitely avoid waiting until the day before. A good rule of thumb is about a week before.

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By making your schedules ahead of time, you give yourself a breathing space in case sudden changes need to be made.

Assign the most important shifts first.. By “most importantly”, we mean “non-negotiable”. If someone absolutely needs to work a particular shift, fill it out first and set it in stone. Once all the necessary shifts are filled, it's easier to mix and match the remaining shifts with the available employees.

And always keep at least one contingency in mind. Ideally, you'd want to create multiple schedules (eg Plan A, Plan B, etc), but that can be time consuming, so you should at least identify the employees most likely to fail and have a backup plan in case. they do.

Make the schedule easily accessible. Letting your workers see the schedule in advance is good for two reasons:they can point out any mistakes, and they'll appreciate the reminders so they can plan their own weeks around the schedule.

Since we will be using Excel templates to create our work schedules, the preferred option is to upload them directly to Google Drive. Sign in and share Google Drive files. Easy Log in and share files easily Google Drive is a cloud storage and online office service that comes with 15 GB of free storage and nifty collaboration options. Here's how to access and share documents with others. Read more . Will Convert to Alternative Google Sheets vs. Google Sheets:Which is Better for You? Excel vs. Google Sheets:Which is better for you? Do you really need Excel? Both desktop and online solutions have their advantages. If you're having trouble choosing between Excel and Google Sheets to manage your spreadsheets, let us help you decide. Read More Heed These Tips for Google Sheets Collaborative Sheets 5 Setting Up Google Sheets Essential for Teamwork 5 Setting Up Google Sheets Essential for Teamwork Google Sheets has more features to support data entry and processing collective data of what you believe. We'll introduce you to the functions and features of Google Sheets that are essential for group projects. Read More

And don't worry about security. Unless you're dealing with government secrets, Google Sheets is secure enough. How safe are your documents in Google Drive? How secure are your documents in Google Drive? Read More

Free Excel Template Downloads

With these tips out of the way, here are a handful of awesome Excel templates designed specifically to help employers plan workers' schedules for the week. It will still be hard work, but easier If you use one of these templates.

Templates are available as XLSX files for Excel 2007 and later versions.

Comprehensive work shift schedule

This work shift schedule by Worksheet123 It is one of the most complete templates out there. It's good enough to compete with some of the programming software available for download on the web, but somehow this template is available completely free of charge.

When you open it, you will find different sheets for:Employee Registration, Work Shift Schedule, Time Card, Salary Budget, Attendance, Occupation, Settings and Help. The help sheet is a mini-tutorial that will show you how to get started with the program.

Honestly, we highly recommend this one. We have a couple of other suggestions below this one, but none are as good and you should only check them out if this one is too complicated for what you want to do (which is certainly a valid complaint).

Download: Work shift schedule

Weekly shift schedule

This weekly shift schedule by Business Management Systems It may not be as complete as the previous one, but it is ideal for smaller teams. It's simpler, which means it's easier to learn and easier to use. Highly recommended for those who want an intermediate programmer.

It comes with three sheets:Schedule, Shifts and Employees. All you have to do is list your employees and their hourly rates on the Employees sheet. Next, define the start time and end time for each available shift on the Shifts sheet. Subsequently, the automated time sheet is self explanatory.

The only drawback is that it can only go up to 20 employees and 9 defined shifts, which makes it ideal for small and medium operations, but unlikely for large companies.

Download: Employee working hours

Daily shift schedule

Maybe you don't need all the automatic bells and whistles that come with the two templates mentioned above. Maybe you prefer to do things as manually as possible and all you need is a really basic program to play around with. If so, use the one provided by Vertex 42 .

This template doesn't work some work at all Its sole purpose is to provide you with a pre-designed calendar that you can complete by hand. When you're done, you can print it out (or upload it online) for everyone to see, and it's easy enough to start fresh each week.

Download: Shift Schedule Template

Excel makes your life easier once again

Feel free to modify these templates to suit your needs, if they aren't absolutely perfect for you (as long as you don't redistribute them). If you want to customize but don't know where to start, we recommend that you learn Excel formulas. Need help with Excel formulas? 7 resources to check out Need help with Excel formulas? 7 Resources to Reference Excel is the gold standard of spreadsheets. If you must use Excel and yet become familiar with it, these resources will quickly introduce you to the basics and beyond. Read more first.

And before you go printing your full calendars, check out these tips for printing Excel sheets 7 Excel Printing Tips:How to Print Your Spreadsheet Step-by-Step 7 Excel Printing Tips:How to Print Your Spreadsheet Step-by-Step Do you have problems printing from Microsoft Excel? This guide will show you how to print an Excel spreadsheet perfectly. Read More

Which template is your favourite? Did we lose some good ones? Do you have any tips or tricks for scheduling your employees? Share with us in the comments below!