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Creating a work schedule is not 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. Before diving into the actual scheduling process, keep the following considerations in mind. They ll ease the entire process and reduce the amount of stress that piles up on you. Scheduling will never be easy, but it doesn t have to be a nightmare. Know your employee s preferences. The kind of preferences you can take into account when scheduling will differ from field to field (e.

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G. Retail vs. Warehouse), but it s important to at least try to accommodate your workers. Do some employees have a slant towards mornings? Or maybe evenings? How many hours does each employee want per week? Are there any timing restrictions, such as an unwillingness to work Sundays? Do certain employees have synergy and compatibility? You can t accommodate everyone, but it s a good goal to shoot for because it can improve productivity and atmosphere but most importantly it ll build trust, and trust goes hand-in-hand with respect. Track employee absence requests. As if it weren t hard enough to juggle all of your employee s preferences, there are time-sensitive issues that will pop up every now and then. For example, someone needs a few days to take a vacation or to mourn a lost family member.

Make the schedule ahead of time. Obviously you can t make it too far ahead of time in case situations change, but definitely avoid waiting until the day before. A good rule of thumb is about a week in advance. By making your schedules ahead of time, you give yourself some breathing room in case sudden changes need to be made. Assign the most important shifts first. By most important, we mean non-negotiable. If someone absolutely needs to work a particular shift, fill it in first and set it in stone. Once all of the necessary shifts are filled, it s easier to mix-and-match the remaining shifts with available employees. And always keep at least one contingency in mind. Plan A, Plan B, etc) but that can take up a lot of time, so at the very least you should identify the employees who are most likely to fall through and have a backup plan in case they do. Make the schedule easily accessible. Letting your workers see the schedule beforehand is good for two reasons:

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they can point out any errors and they ll appreciate the heads up so they can plan out their own weeks around the schedule. It ll still be hard work, but much easier if you use one of these templates. Templates are available as XLSX files for Excel 7557 and later versions. This work shift schedule by Spreadsheet678 is one of the more comprehensive templates out there. It s good enough to rival some of the scheduling software available for download on the web, yet somehow this template is available completely free of charge. When you open it, you ll find different sheets for: Employee Register, Work Shift Schedule, Time Card, Salary Budget, Attendance, Occupancy, Settings, and Help. The Help sheet is a mini-tutorial that will show you how to get started with the schedule. 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 overly complicated for what you want to do (which is certainly a valid complaint). This weekly shift schedule by Business Management Systems may not be as comprehensive as the one above, but it s great for smaller teams. It s simpler, which means its easier to learn and easier to use.

Highly recommended for those who want a middle-of-the-road scheduler. It comes with three sheets: Schedule, Shifts, and Employees. All you have to do is list your employees and their hourly rates in the Employees sheet. Then define the start time and end time for each available shift in the Shifts sheet. Afterwards, the automated Schedule sheet becomes self-explanatory. The only downside is that it can only go up to 75 employees and 9 defined shifts, making it great for small and medium operations, but implausible for larger companies. Maybe you don t need all of the automated 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 truly basic schedule to tinker with. If so, then use the one provided by Vertex97. This template doesn t do any work at all. Its only purpose is to give you a predesigned schedule that you can fill out by hand.

When finished, you can print it out (or upload it online) for everyone to see, and it s easy enough to start afresh every week. Which template is your favorite? Did we miss any good ones? Share with us in the comments below! Image Credits: by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock, by faithie via Shutterstock, by faithie via Shutterstock, by xtock via ShutterstockWe believe that music addiction serves as a surrogate for lost human bonds. Songs can pierce the heart directly it needs no mediation. Weekly Bass House mixtapes uploaded each and every Wednesday. Hear us out on HulkShare! Here's the thing with excel, it's not solving a problem as much as it is a temporary fix. If you have 6-8 employees, you can probably track then using a paper and pencil each week. You can create something in excel and put it up as a google doc but in all reality, but the amount of admin time you're going to spend going back in and tweaking everything is cost prohibitive.

But ultimately you need to get something that's going give you more flexibility and will allow you to make changes without having to take half an hour out of your day. At what point would you give up on Excel and move to dedicated planning and scheduling software?

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