Microsoft Excel can easily claim the title as one of the most useful computing tools for business that has ever been created. It can be used for so many things, one one thing that it’s very commonly used for is employee scheduling.
Anyone who has managed a team knows that creating work schedules is a difficult task during which you have to take many things into consideration.It’s especially difficult when you are scheduling a larger team or hourly workers who seem to never work the same shift twice.
Thankfully, you can make that process a bit easier on yourself by using Excel. Here are some tips to consider when using a scheduling template in Excel in order to make the process as intuitive and productive as possible.
Before you start creating your schedule in Excel, you need to survey your staff and see if they have any work preferences that can help you to make the process more convenient and less stressful. This is especially true when scheduling restaurant, call center, retail or healthcare workers for example - employees who have constantly changing and irregular work schedules.
See if you have any employees with certain preferences. Do they prefer weekends or weekdays? Days or nights? If you have this information available to you ahead of time, you are going to be able to enter the process anticipating potential scheduling problems and conflicts. It’s basically going to allow you to make a schedule with less stress.
Of course, there are always going to be changes that you are going to have to make and you’ll hardly ever be able to create a perfect schedule with your first draft. But if you have this information ahead of time, there’s definitely going to be less headaches for you in the long run.
You’re not going to be able to accommodate everyone’s needs and preferences all of the time, but asking them about their preferences ahead of time helps to build trust and gives your employees a feeling of being included in the process. Employees really appreciate it when they can have their say in the scheduling process.
As mentioned earlier, you’re never going to have a perfect schedule on your hands after your first effort. The first draft of your schedule is almost never your final one. That’s why it’s always a good idea to schedule in advance and to have schedule drafts ready at least a week or so before these shifts are actually going to happen.
By having a template schedule put together well in advance, you’re giving yourself some breathing room and getting rid of some of the pressure that comes with having to schedule quickly. You’re giving yourself time to make the necessary changes that are going to have to be made to your schedule so that you’re avoiding conflicts and not leaving shifts open or unfilled.
Your best bet would be to first schedule all of the shifts that are absolute priorities - shifts for which you already have a clear idea of who’s going to work them. And then when that’s done, you can tackle the other shifts that are less clear and obvious.
Starting to put your schedule together well in advance also gives you the opportunity to experiment a little bit and create several different versions of the schedule before you settle on one. It might take a bit of extra effort, but it pays off in the end. You’ll be able to see what works best and identify trends that are going to help you get better at creating work schedules with every next effort.
It’s also a good idea to give your employees early access to the schedule or schedules, so that they can give their feedback on the process.
In today’s day and age, putting together work schedules for your employees is definitely not an easy task. Well, it never really was to begin with. As technology has made advancements, however, the process has become a bit less complex.
Remember life before the Internet? Managers had to create work schedules using pen and paper mostly, and then relay the schedules to employees individually - usually by phone. Sure, it’s not really a problem when you are dealing with a team that has fixed 9-5 hours that don’t change all that often.
But if you are working with hourly employees, then the job gets infinitely harder. If you’re running a healthcare facility, restaurant or retail store, for example, you have a lot of work ahead of you. These types of industries deal mostly with hourly workers who have constantly changing schedules. Employees tend to be part-time workers - like students who need to balance their workloads with their school work. You can imagine then how hard it used to be when the only way to communicate with your employees was either in person or by telephone.
What if an employee cancelled on your last minute? What if you made a mistake and double-booked a shift? How are you going to fix it? It certainly wasn’t an easy task.
As personal computers began to be more readily available and people started using them more, many managers and schedulers started taking their schedules from notebooks to spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel was, of course, the most popular one for people to use. You had a nice place to start - a gridded sheet that was a lot easier to alter than before. But it wasn’t until the Internet arrived that it was easier to distribute the schedules and communicate with your staff.
Many businesses these days use Excel templates to create work schedules for their teams. They then send the templates out to employees so that they can see when they are working. Of course, this wasn’t the most convenient method either. For example, if you made a mistake in your spreadsheet, you would have to change it and then resend the work schedule all over again.
The next innovation that came was Google Sheets. Managers could now make changes that their employees could follow in real time and check via their mobile phones at any time. Progress. But regardless of the progress that has been made from pen and paper, to Excel and to online spreadsheets that live in the cloud, there’s still a lot left to be desired. Enter online employee scheduling software.
The next revolution in employee scheduling - taking everything you do to the cloud. The rise of employee scheduling software has been a true revolution, even though there are still many businesses out there that have yet to switch to this method because they aren’t aware that it exists, believe it’s too complicated, or believe that it’s too expensive - none of which is true.
Firstly, most employee scheduling software is incredibly intuitive and designed to make it incredibly easy to schedule your staff. Unlike with Excel or online spreadsheets, you don’t have to start from scratch. Everything is laid out for and highly customizable to fit your business needs.
And it’s certainly not very expensive, costing little more than a dollar a month per employee in most cases.
So what makes it so revolutionary? Because employee scheduling and workforce management software makes the entire process much more intuitive and fluid. It saves managers incredible amounts of time and money when it comes to how they are running their businesses - not just in the scheduling facet, but in many other ones as well.
When using an employee scheduling application and working in the cloud, your employee scheduling process is so much easier. Here’s how:
Employee scheduling software is smart enough to recognize your schedule mistakes and notify you so that you can make the necessary changes. For example, if you have forgotten to fill a shift or if you have double-booked a shift, the software will immediately notice that and inform you. Many have conflict checkers that analyze your schedules to make sure that you have not scheduled any conflicts between workers. If you have, the application will show the conflicts to you and even give you recommendations on how to fix it.
When you’re done creating your schedule, you don’t have to send your employees and email or call them on the phone to tell them that there is a new schedule for them to check out. The software will immediately notify all your employees of the new schedule, either by email or SMS, as soon as you publish the schedule.
Most employee scheduling apps also have internal communication options and chats that employees can use to communicate with each other online.
Most employee scheduling applications go way beyond scheduling and offer you more holistic options for managing your entire team.
For example, many offer employee time and attendance options that are integrated into the software. Using the software, your employees can clock in and out of work shifts and breaks. Most come with native mobile applications that enable employees to clock in from anywhere. This is great news for managers who have remote employees that are not always working from the same locations.
Using the software, employees can clock in and out from anywhere they want, and the software can also confirm their locations via GPS.
Most importantly, managers now have all this information available to them. They can easily keep track of who is coming in late or leaving early. They can simply turn this time and attendance data into reports and export the information into spreadsheets.
And now that managers have this time and attendance information that is easily compiled and always accurate, it makes taking the data to payroll a lot easier as well. And if you’re using another software to run your payroll, that’s no problem either. Most of the best employee scheduling applications integrate with all of the most popular payroll software solutions on the market.
Bottom line: Using employee scheduling software saves you time and money by making every aspect of managing your employees much easier and more intuitive. This decrease the time managers need to spend on scheduling and bookkeeping so that they can have more time to lead their employees and focus on the success and development of their businesses.
Not only are managers and employers happier using employee scheduling software, employees love it as well. Using a cloud solution is much more convenient for employees and it gives them an added level of independence that was previously impossible to afford them.
Not only are employees notified whenever their schedules change, they can see their schedules in real time from anywhere, whether using a desktop computer or smartphone. Employee scheduling software also puts the employees in the driver’s seat and makes the scheduling process much more collaborative.
For example, many of these online scheduling solutions allow employees to manually fill in their availability, letting management know when they can and can’t work in order to avoid conflicts and problems in the scheduling process. Using employees scheduling software, staff can also initiate shift trades and swaps on their own. If they want to drop a shift and ask someone else to pick it up, or if they want to trade shift with a co-worker, they can forward those requests to management directly.
Employees can also put in requests for leave and other types of personal time off and get notifications directly on their smartphones when management decides to either approve or reject the request.