How to Set Up an Employee Schedule

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For most businesses, staff schedules must be changed every week to accommodate employees.
For most businesses, staff schedules must be changed every week to accommodate employees. (Image: Creative Crop/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

One of the most common chores of managers and business owners is scheduling employees. Each employee's circumstances affect her availability. Filling staffing needs with a schedule can be a weekly challenge, especially when you deal with employee illnesses, emergencies and vacations. Fortunately for managers, creating an employee schedule can be simplified by following a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Spreadsheet program
  • Paper and pen or pencil (optional)

Open your favorite spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office or Open Office and make eight columns. Label the first column "Name" and the remaining seven columns for the days of the week. Alternately, you can use a pen and paper by folding the paper into eight columns and folding it in half vertically three times.

In the first column, list each of your employees' names. The names can be listed in any order, as long as all employees are included. Create a row for each employee.

Place an "X" in any cell where an employee will be unavailable. For example, if Mary is unable to work on Wednesday, place an "X" next to her name in the Wednesday column. Blocking out unavailable days will help to shape your schedule and prevent you from accidentally creating schedule conflicts for your employees.

Fill in your grid by entering the hours to be worked each day next to each employee's name, with the work hours for each day added in the appropriate column. For example, if David will be working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, add "9-5" next to David's name in each of those daily columns.

Finalize your schedule by reviewing whom you've scheduled to work on each day and making sure that you've added adequate staff to cover all the work hours or shifts required. For example, a business with three working shifts would examine each daily column to be sure that at least one employee was scheduled to work during each work shift. If you require more than one person per shift, adjust your schedule accordingly.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have a spreadsheet program, download Open Office for a free spreadsheet with complete capabilities.
  • Many businesses also review their schedules to be sure that none of their employees has been scheduled for more than 40 hours of work each week.

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