workforce-management | 14 mins read

How To Create an Employee Weekly Schedule That Keeps Everyone Happy

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Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is an Employee Weekly Schedule?

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Employees are the backbone of any organization. By ensuring they achieve a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the workplace will help a business increase its productivity and profits. Business owners, therefore, have to carefully, and at the same time, considerately, plan and manage the work time of their employees to get the best results from them. This makes it necessary to chalk up a weekly employee schedule.

A weekly schedule for employees contains a list of all staff members, along with the work/shift timings assigned to them, and their responsibilities for different days of the week. A schedule may be a standard one, allowing employees to work on set days (usually Mondays through Fridays) and for set hours (usually from 9am to 5pm). There are also schedules that begin on a Wednesday. However, a company working round the clock tends to rotate its staff around shifts, where they're allocated different work intervals for different days or weeks.

Furthermore, a work schedule may be flexible, letting employees choose the start and end times in a workday. This is usually on condition that they work a fixed number of hours and complete the work within set deadlines. Employers may even allow their staff to complete their workday and tasks from a remote location after they put in a certain number of core hours at the workplace.

As is evident, employee scheduling involves several permutations and combinations. A sensitive organization tries to make room for employee needs and requests as far as possible. At the same time, they ensure that the demands of the business are adequately fulfilled.

Managers who schedule employees while being sympathetic to their specific issues and requests automatically reduce employee burnout, and increase employee satisfaction and morale. This leads to greater employee retention, and consequently, lower labor costs and increased productivity.

Why Are Weekly Work Schedules Important?

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Having an employee schedule is vital to the success of an organization. Here's why-

1. Clarity of roles and responsibilities- A schedule tells an employee which days they have to work and for how many hours each day. It also defines the tasks they are expected to perform. This ensures that there is no confusion whatsoever, and everybody knows when everybody else is working or has the day off so that they can plan better.

A schedule acts as a ready reckoner of sorts for the management. It helps them make alternative staff arrangements when employees take the day off, or don't turn up due to a sudden illness or family emergency. At the end of the day, the work mustn't get interrupted. Employees have to also be juggled around shifts to ensure all of them get the weekly offs due to them.

2. Aids in time management- When employees knows exactly how much time they are allocated, on which days, to do how much work, they can prioritize their tasks. That way, the most time-sensitive, and easier-to-do jobs can be finished first, leading to an increase in overall efficiency.

3. Helps in meeting deadlines- Having a work schedule ensures that maximum work can be accomplished in the allotted time. This, in turn, makes deadlines easy to manage and meet. With clear targets before them, employees know precisely how much effort they should put in each day.

4. Reduces labor costs- Labor costs constitute the biggest financial burden for an organization. With the help of an effective employee schedule, operators can make plans to manage their human resources better and cut their expenses. For instance, a restaurant may not need too many workers on lean days, or for the period between lunch and dinner, when business is slow. A restaurant can cross-train its staff and make do with a smaller staff during a lull in business.

Alternatively, it can place employees on split shifts when business is sluggish or employee part-time employees. These initiatives help a restaurant significantly bring down labor costs. An employee schedule helps keep things organized and under control.

5. Reallocation of staff- Employees benched during slow periods will need to be brought back to handle hectic work hours. This includes lunch and dinner time, on a busy Friday night, during festivities and holidays, or to cater to large parties. Extra hands may also have to be brought in at these times. These operational decisions cannot be effectively taken unless one has a structured employee schedule to work with.

6. Better work-life balance- A work schedule allows employees to manage their family and social lives well. When they know the days and times they have to work, the volume of work to be completed and by when, they can devote time for leisure and family. They can plan a visit to the doctor, or a trip to the zoo with the kids, or simply catch up on an unfinished novel.

A schedule is critical, particularly for employees working from homeas many are during the pandemic. These employees have to constantly walk a tightrope to balance work and family commitments.

7. Better stress management- A schedule puts work duties within a distinct timeframe. If employees are able to prevent work from spilling over beyond their shift hours, they enjoy leisure time. This significantly cuts down on their stress levels.

  • Since February 2020, which is roughly the time Covid-19 broke out in the U.S., employment in leisure and hospitality went down by 1.8 million (10.3%).
  • However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January 2022 employment in the leisure and hospitality industry went up by 151,000, pointing to considerable job gains in the food and drinks sector.
  • Employment numbers in retail trade rose by 61,000 in January 2022.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Best Practices to Follow When Drawing up an Employee Schedule

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The best practices when preparing work schedules avoid overstaffing or understaffing.

1. Accommodate employee preferences- As it is, restaurant turnover rates are high. U.S. Foods reported it to be 75% in 2019the highest across industries. This has many downstream effects on a restaurant, including loss of time and money.

Asking the employees about their preferences and incorporating them into the weekly schedules, as far as possible, will go a long way in raising worker satisfaction and reducing turnover. For instance, an employee may prefer an evening shift because he or she has to attend college in the morning, or may enjoy busier weekend shifts.

Moreover, by putting employees on six-to-eight-hour shifts, restaurant owners can make sure employees are engaged and earn a decent amount in tips, covering their commuting costs. A manager should encourage open communication and dialogue with employees.

2. Be open to changes- A manager knows when dealing with human beings with different needs and compulsions, a shift schedule may need to be changed even at the eleventh hour. Workers may have last-minute emergencies or may need to swap shifts with colleagues.

3. Reduce unpredictability and too many rotations- Unless absolutely necessary due to the nature of the job, a business owner must refrain from placing employees on different shifts every week. Too much unpredictability and rotation will prevent an employee from plan for important engagements outside the workplace, leading to employee dissatisfaction. Such shifts are also difficult for employers to create and manage.

4. Allow flexible shifts- If employees are allowed to work on their own terms, albeit staying within the remit of the company's rules and regulations and without affecting productivity, Employee Performance may rise markedly.

5. Provide schedules in advance- Keeping employees waiting until the last minute for their schedules can have a disruptive effect. It would prevent them from planning for vital commitments outside the workplace. Moreover, if some had already scheduled events, like a visit to the doctor or the passport office (places with non-negotiable timings), a work schedule that clashes with these predetermined commitments would lead to unnecessary stress. Changing schedules can then become tiresome for managers too. Predictive employee scheduling laws in the U.S. mandate that organizations should provide employee schedules up to two weeks in advance.

6. Real time management- Schedule changes may indeed happen at a moment's notice. So a manager should be able to react quickly and in real time from anywhere. Scheduling software solutions come in handy in such situations.

7. Employee-friendly social media policy- Social media has become an integral part of our lives, and the management ought not to be overly strict about the employees' social media usage. However, proper Time Management by the employees themselves while using social media during work hours is a must.

Management also needs to clearly specify what employees can share on Social Media while at work, and what they can post about the company and their work life outside work hours. It must be emphasized that since Social Media posts are public information, they should not talk disparagingly about the company, or its competitors, contradict or challenge company policies or create controversy of any sort.

Pros and Cons of Spreadsheet Schedule Templates

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Despite the popularity of employee scheduling software, many organizations still do things the old way, like depending on spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Here's a list of the merits and demerits of spreadsheet employee schedule templates-


1. Simple to use- Information can be neatly organized in rows and columns and sorted by information type. In-built tools help analyze data and plug it into pie charts, or tables for easy viewing. Spreadsheets are extremely user-friendly.

2. Multiple user access- This has become necessary in today's collaborative work environment. Excel spreadsheets can be shared, but only one user can alter the data at a time. Google Sheets provide the option of file-sharing, and multiple users can access and update a single form.

3. Adaptability- A spreadsheet like Excel is highly adaptable and customizable, and one can easily select fonts and colors to highlight certain information.


1. User bias- Only information that a user selects can be included in presentations; other pertinent information may be excluded. This prevents the manager from having a 360-degree view of the operation and clouds decision-making.

2. Lack of security- Spreadsheets are considerably prone to data corruption, mismanagement of information, and may be appropriated by hackers, even when password-protected.

3. Time-consuming- Creating a weekly work schedule template on Excel involves a considerable amount of manual labor, eating into the manager's valuable time.

Benefits of Employee Scheduling Software

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1. Scheduling can be made immeasurably easier by relying on modern employee scheduling and Time Management software, rather than on rudimentary channels like emails, texts, instant messaging, or spreadsheets.

These apps act as one centralized database. All messages can be streamlined, and every member of the organization can be kept in the loop from anywhere in the world.

With scheduling apps, managers need not trouble themselves for hours, creating, revising, and re-revising schedules. They don't have to sift through reams of paper either. Various aspects of an employee's engagement, like overtime hours worked, absenteeism, and attendance patterns, become easily accessible.

2. Smart automation of schedule-making helps integrate complex scheduling requirements, internal workflows, and available human resources. This helps create quick, accurate, cost-effective employee schedules. Managers can depend on a single, centralized source of information, which lessens their burden and allows them to focus on strategic business initiatives.

3. Software-based scheduling boosts employee satisfaction by letting employees accept schedules and raise issues with the manager from anywhere, and from any device. This technology keeps employees happy, with balanced workloads, self-service scheduling, and so on.

4. Automated employee scheduling helps organizations stay on the right side of local labor laws, and eliminates human errors that can cause worker fatigue and even put workers' lives at risk.

5. Employee scheduling solves the complexity of flexible scheduling. This gives organizations a considerable amount of operational agility.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

5 Best Work Schedule Apps for Restaurants

1. Zip Schedules- This software solution, available on the Hubworks platform, helps managers create employee schedules in minutes. It lets them save favorite schedules as templates, and these can be tweaked according to the needs of the business or to accommodate employee requests.

Time spent on common tasks can be saved by simply dropping shifts into employee slots, rather than creating new ones every time. The internal messaging system and free mobile app Make Sure the entire team can be instantly alerted on their phones.

Real Time Management of schedules, prompt review of employee requests, and quick decisions on shift change requests are important features of this platform. Schedule changes are communicated to employees in no time. Employees can also easily find coworkers to cover their shifts.

With data based on sales and transactions, this software helps management avoid over- and under-staffing, ensures consistent customer service, and lowers labor costs.

ShiftForce- This Employee Scheduling system offers features like a manager log book, daily communication reports, scheduling templates, sales forecasting, employee task manager, drag and drop shifts, and so on. It is built particularly for organizations working on a shift-to-shift basis, like retail stores, healthcare facilities, manufacturers, hotels, etc.

Work schedules can be built every week with a few clicks, and time can be conserved by centralizing communication in the Manager Log book. By allowing access to all employees, the schedules Make Sure that employee accountability rises.

3. Harri- It is a complete workforce management platform, and comes with pre-hire and post-hire tools. It offers features like a facial recognition Time Clock. The app acts as a social network, where company news and information can be posted, schedules can be shared, shift swaps or time-offs can be applied, and so on.

4. 7Shifts- This comprehensive scheduling software allows integration with most POS software solutions. It has robust communication tools like group chat, direct messaging, announcements, and shift feedback. It sends schedules directly to the emails or phones of employees, and factors in labor availability, overtime, and labor laws. It also has a useful reporting option and a weekly labor budget tool. It comes with a free mobile app too.

5. When I Work-
This software is well-suited for small restaurants. The free plan allows scheduling and communication without hassles for a single location, for up to 75 users. The user-friendly mobile app aids in Time Management, letting employees request time off and also swap schedules easily. The app doubles as a time clock too, dispensing with the need to have a separate tool for employee punch-ins.

Work Schedule FAQs

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1. How is work time classified?

Work time refers to the hours one spends doing paid work at the organization that employs them.

Standard Employee Time, or work hours usually comprise 40 hours per week, while overtime, or the time spent working beyond the standard hours, entails all the work done after 40 hours.

However, different U.S. states approach the issue of overtime differently. For instance, overtime work in California also covers the first eight hours of work done on the seventh day of the week.

2. Does on-call time count as work time?

People 'on-call' can't be said to be strictly working. However, they have to be present in the office in case they are asked to join active work. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), while "all on-call time is not hours worked", some on-call time does count as hours worked and is compensated accordingly.

3. What is a compressed workweek?

A compressed workweek lets employees work the regular 32-40 hours a week, but, over a fewer number of workdays than usual. This invariably means longer-than-usual shifts in lieu of extra days off.

4. What is paid time off?

This includes all the time an employee spends away from work, for his or her personal needs, but with compensation. This may be awarded in the form of sick leave, personal leave, or vacation time.

5. Can an employee refuse to work overtime?

No. The FLSA says that an employee may be fired or disciplined if he or she refuses to work overtime to carry out duties assigned.

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