12 steps to creating an employee schedule template in microsoft excel

Last Updated On October 05, 2018 / Written By Victoria Brunette

12 Steps to Creating an Employee Schedule Template in Microsoft Excel

Whether you have created an employee schedule template before or haven’t yet attempted the process of employee shift scheduling, the prospect can seem daunting.

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Creating your schedule template will hopefully be the easy part; what will really take time is all of the work that goes into actually scheduling your employees’ shifts.

Scheduling shifts around the busy lives and limited hours of a team of employees, large or small, is no simple task.

Managers must make a schedule that balances employee needs with business needs, creating a happy medium.

Luckily, there are employee scheduling applications, such as Zip Schedules, that will have you creating complex shifts and employee schedules in moments, with less of a headache to you. Better yet, some even offer a free trial period

If you’re just starting out with scheduling or not yet ready to take your employee scheduling method to the next level, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets can be pressed into service as an employee scheduling tool. This office application has some handy, pre-made templates to speed up the initial creation of a shift schedule.

By following this guide to creating a Microsoft Excel employee shift schedule, you will have a simple and customizable scheudle template that can be reused over and over until you are ready to invest in an employee scheduling app.

Choose Your Employee Scheduling TemplateThe first three sections of this guide will cover how to set up your employee shift schedule (basically, choosing your template) for PC and Mac. Another option in this section is uploading your own downloaded schedule template from a source other than Microsoft. Download a free, customizable, and easy-to-edit employee shift planning schedule template in Excel format here and adjust it quickly to fit your scheduling needs. You could also reference the video below to create and format your own employee schedule template; however, this will take some added time.


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Set Up Your Schedule Template for PC Users Start your Microsoft Excel program, click on the “File” tab and select “New.”
Double-click the “Schedules” button on the “Available Templates” screen.
Double-click the “Business Schedules” file folder icon. From here, choose a template that matches your scheduling needs and includes the features you are looking for. Once you have decided on a template, double-click the schedule to choose it.


Set Up Your Schedule Template for Mac Users 1. Start your Microsoft Excel program; on the left, click the drop-down arrow for “Online Templates.”

2. Under “Online Templates” scroll down and click on “Schedules.”

3. From here, choose a template that best matches your scheduling needs and includes the features you are looking for. Once you have decided on a schedule template, double-click to chose and open your spreadsheet.


Insert Your Own Downloaded Excel Schedule Template 1. Download your free Excel scheduling template.

2. Open the template and proceed with the following steps to edit and customize your employee schedule template.

3. At this point for PC, Mac, or your downloaded template, remember to save your workbook so that the next steps in creating your employee schedule are not lost. It’s always a good idea to click the “Save” icon or click on “File” and “Save” in the top left after every few steps to ensure you don’t lose all of your hard work


Now continuing on to the good stuff, we will finally begin creating your employee schedule.

Set Up Your Employee SchedulePopulate Cells for Your Employees Shifts Click into one of the cells populated with a fictitious employee’s name. These cells are typically located in the leftmost column.
Overtype the fictitious name with the name of one of your employees.Repeat steps 5 and 6 to add each employee to be included on the first day of your schedule. If you don’t need all the rows in the template, right-click the row header of any unwanted row and select “Delete.” If prompted, select “Delete Row.”

To add employees, right-click a row header, choose “Insert” to add a blank line and then type an employee name in the leftmost column.

If you didn’t add or delete any rows, you can now copy the cells with the employees’ names. Highlight the employee name cells in the next day of the week, right-click and select “Paste,” to replace the fictitious names with those of your actual employees. If you did add or delete some rows, you would need to add or delete corresponding rows in each daily section of the schedule.

Add Shifts to Your Employee Schedule On most of the templates supplied in Microsoft Excel, the attendance times run across the top of the schedule grid. You can change the times in these fields if you wish, simply by overtyping the existing times. For example, you may want to use time increments that start at half-past the hour.

Delete all the dummy information in the scheduling cells. To do this, click in a cell that contains data and hit the delete key on your keyboard.
To schedule your real employees for work, you can simply type an “X” in each cell the person is required to be at work. For example, to schedule an employee from 9-00 am to 12-00 pm, type an “X” in each associated cell. The template should already have a formula in place to recognize which of the schedule cells are populated with an “X” (or any other text you choose to enter) and automatically calculate the number of hours in the “Total” or “Daily Hours” column.

Another example would be to type the employee’s position into the cells that they will be working i.e. Crew, Supervisor, Manager, etc. This is especially useful for employees who work in different areas of your business on different days or even different times throughout the day.

The template may have the information above the schedule grid that you wish to amend, such as a title and fields for the week, start or end date, and department name. You can simply edit all this information as you see fit.
Now click the “File” menu and choose “Save As.” Type a name for the schedule or use a week number or start and end date.

Select where to save your new schedule. Finally, click the “Save” button.

Celebrate Your Completed Employee ScheduleTake a deep breath; you have now created a customized, professional-looking employee schedule using Microsoft Excel.

From here, you can make it as pretty as you want (add business logos, change colors, etc.) and add any additional bells and whistles you feel necessary. However, you will probably have spent hours making sure your shifts are covered with available employees and will inevitably have to spend time in the days to come editing your schedule when employees swap shifts and changes occur, so try to keep it as simple as possible.

Creating a new shift schedule from here is as easy as copying the original you just created and updating the copy with new details.

Now you can email your schedule to your employees or print as a hard copy to place on noticeboards.

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Additional Tools for Employee SchedulingAnother useful resource to accompany your newly created employee shift schedule is this free download of a Microsoft Excel time tracking template for employee time tracking and record keeping.

Having a reusable, customized employee scheduling template will help to save you time during your next scheduling process; however, there are many other factors that affect the efficiency of your shift planning, including knowing employee availability and absence requests, assigning most important shifts first, and scheduling far enough in advance. Check out this article for more tips on creating an employee schedule in Excel.

If you’ve made it this far, used the resources and tips provided, but the process still makes your head hurt (as it did ours), remember- There are simple and efficient employee scheduling apps that will allow you to plan shifts in minutes, saving you hours a week on work scheduling and managing changes that occur.





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