Employee Schedule Templates and Instructions (Free Download)

Updated July 31, 2023

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An employee schedule template is a calendar or table listing all employees and the hours they are scheduled to work. You can fill in employee schedule templates easily and consistently so all employees know their expected work hours, stay organized and ensure all shifts are covered.

In this article, we explain what an employee schedule template is and how to create one, plus give employee schedule template examples and answer some common questions.

Read more: Employee Scheduling: How To Make a Work Schedule for Your Team

How to create a work schedule for employees

Here are steps to create an employee work schedule:

1. Create a blank spreadsheet

If not using a prefilled template, begin by opening a new spreadsheet on your computer. Title it "Employee Schedule Template." Save your new spreadsheet.

2. Insert column headings

The first column heading will be "Employee" followed by column headings for the workdays that need to be filled. If you are creating a weekly schedule, include the days of operation for a week (with dates) in the column headings. Add on if you are creating a biweekly or monthly schedule. Some templates include a "Total hours" heading in the final column while some also tally pay. You can include these items if they are helpful to your employees.

3. Fill in employee names

The employee names will populate the first column below the "Employee" header. Write or sort the names alphabetically for your employees to easily find their names.

4. Determine work times

Populate the rest of the columns with the appropriate shifts. Include either the shift name or the specific hours the person is expected to work. Tally up the number of hours assigned — or have your spreadsheet automate this — and fill in the "Total Hours" column if you have included it on your employee schedule template.

To assist with automation, many spreadsheet programs allow you to create drop-down menus to make your scheduling more efficient. For example, if your employees work one of three shifts, you could create a drop-down menu for each day with the three shift names to quickly click and assign rather than typing.

5. Save as a new document

Once you have filled in your employee schedule template, save the spreadsheet as a new document with a different file name. This way, your template will be available for the next round of scheduling while maintaining a record of past employee schedules.

6. Share the schedule

You might want to post your employee schedule somewhere in the workplace while also sharing it digitally. Determine what works best for your employees and make sure they all have easy access, and alert them when it’s posted.

Related: Requesting a Schedule Change at Work: Steps and Tips

Employee schedule template examples

Here are some example schedules you can use when creating your own template schedule for your team, including a weekly hourly employee schedule, a weekly employee schedule that auto-calculates total hours and a weekly employee schedule by shift:

Download Weekly Employee Schedule Template
Download Weekly Employee Schedule Template With Total Hours
Download Weekly Employee Schedule Template By Shift

To upload the templates into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

How to choose the right schedule template for your business

To choose the right employee schedule template, you’ll want to determine which will best meet your employees' and company’s needs. Then, decide if you should schedule short-term (one week at a time) or long-term (a month at a time). Ask your employees if they’d like to see a tally of their total hours for the week, or their pay calculated on the schedule.

Types of work schedules include full time, part time, flexible shift, fixed schedule and rotating shifts. Other common schedules include 4-2 and 9-80. These can all be illustrated on an employee schedule template.

Related: Productivity Worksheet Template, Example and Tips

Frequently asked questions

Why is employee scheduling so important?

Employee scheduling is important because it ensures that there are enough employees working at any given time to meet customer demands and complete necessary tasks. A well-planned schedule can also help reduce labor costs, improve employee satisfaction and productivity and minimize scheduling conflicts.

What are some common scheduling challenges and how can you address them?

Common scheduling challenges include last-minute scheduling changes and employee availability issues. You can often solve these challenges by using scheduling software that allows for easy adjustments, communicating clearly with employees about the schedule and any changes and being willing to work with employees to find solutions to conflicts. It's also helpful to create a consistent scheduling policy that outlines expectations and procedures for scheduling.

How can I optimize employee scheduling to reduce costs?

One way to optimize employee scheduling to reduce costs is to use data analytics and scheduling software to identify patterns in employee productivity and adjust schedules accordingly. It's also helpful to cross-train employees to work in multiple areas or roles so that scheduling can be more flexible and efficient. Additionally, offering incentives such as bonuses or time off for employees who can work during off-peak hours can help reduce labor costs while still ensuring adequate coverage.

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