The to-do list for a manager can often seem never-ending, metaphorically resembling a revolving door- when one task goes out, another comes in. Although such duties vary on a day-to-day basis, one undertaking remains a constant challenge in employee scheduling. This is especially true for those who still complete scheduling tasks manually through spreadsheets, or even more simplistically with a pen and paper.
Templates provide several benefits to a work schedule - whether that be a monthly or weekly schedule. At its core, templates from employee scheduling software drastically reduce the amount of prep time that goes into creating each schedule. Record retention and organization is also more feasible, as all files can be stored on a desktop or cloud database.
Although the simplicity of something like an Excell schedule may be part of the solution, the concept can be applied through different avenues of scheduling software.
What to Include in a Template
When it comes to shift scheduling, make sure to begin with applying essential basics. Every scheduling template should present
- 1 to 2 weeks' worth of employee shifts to fill, with shift windows ranging from 4 to 8 hours
- Keep track of a full roster of the current team, including names and contact information
- Date of each day in other words, instead of just Monday, the date should be written as Monday 1/1
- Hours of shift work for each day, which is especially important for businesses who offer longer/shorter hours on specific days
- A supervisor's or manager's contact information
- Clear visual representation of working hours, through time tracking, which can also be color-coded, allowing the schedule to read more easily
In regards to the roster and contact information, list those items on the perimeter of the schedule, or on a new page altogether if your staff count is larger in size. The calendar itself should be clean with a clear presentation of the working hours only.
It should not take long or be difficult to determine the days and hours each individual will be working or the jobs he/she will be performing - whether it be a day shift or night shift. A cluttered schedule
can detract from this.
In order to determine if a schedule is visually optimized to the best of its ability, try testing it first This can be done by
- Experimenting with an older schedule and selecting an employee at random. Time how long it takes to locate his/her designated shift.
- Try the first step again, but while multitasking with something small, like purging the inbox. With a new employee in mind, glance at the schedule and try locating that employee's shift, while also timing yourself.
If a shift scheudle template takes more than 30 seconds to locate said shifts and determine the employee's role during that shift, the schedule will need to be revised and simplified.
How to Create the Template
After gathering all of the essential basics, begin constructing the template, which can be done in programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, and begin plugging in all necessary information.
Although Microsoft Office products cannot work as a schedule maker, they can be utilized to create employee schedules. If your employees have identification photos, these can be helpful for time attendance tools to further differentiate your employees when creating the employee schedule.
Remember - The end-goal is to simplify the scheduling template. Don't over-complicate it by incorporating design graphics and various colors. Outside of potentially including employee ID photos and color-coding, it is recommended to keep the canvas as clean as possible.
- Search for employee scheduling templates in a web browser, selecting one that is compatible with the software (Excel or Google Sheets), and download it.
- Open the newly downloaded template with the spreadsheet software. Most templates come pre-populated with sections, like name, dates, times, etc., so these areas may have to be customized to fit your business.
- Add or remove unwanted rows by right-clicking and selecting Insert or Delete row. Continuously save your work throughout the creation process.
- Select a cell and edit accordingly, filling in each employee's name and repeating the process until all names are listed. When doing so, maintain the same order of names for every schedule. This provides familiarity and makes it easier for employees to locate their names on future schedules.
- After all names have been inputted, fill in all scheduled hours per employee. For best practices, each schedule should only reflect one week's worth of shifts. This prevents confusion for upcoming shifts for the following weeks.
- Another precaution to take to prevent confusion is to color-code each shift, like assigning opening shifts the color orange and closing shifts the color blue.
- List specific jobs/roles that each employee will perform next to the shift time.
- Title the spreadsheet with the week's date (ex- 1/1 1/8 Schedule) and include your business name. In the periphery, list all relevant contacts, like managers' and supervisors' contact information.
Once completed, test the template for easy navigation and readability, applying the 30-second rule. Remember, the goal is simplicity and organization. If the schedule passes the test, finalize it, and distribute it to all team members.
Best Practice for Using the Template
There are key tips to consider when putting a templated schedule to proper use.
The key to a strong schedule is having a deep understanding of your team and individual capabilities. Knowing who your best employees are and taking into account their strengths and weaknesses, will pay dividends in the long-run.
Develop a knowledge of the ins and outs of how your business operates. When you understand which employees work well together and during which times of the day, each shift will run more smoothly and productivity will increase as a result.
Respect employee time-off requests. Realistically, not all shifts can be approved all the time, especially during peak seasons, like summer and national holidays, but making an effort to show that you care about each staff member's request will help maintain healthy morale. This also helps with employee loyalty, as people are more likely to stay with an employer that respects their employees.
Distribute the completed schedule as soon as possible. Providing schedules 2 3 weeks in advance benefits your team, as well as your establishment. Doing so allows for employees to get their personal affairs in order ahead of time, and presents the same opportunity to management.
Allow for customization by your employees. If someone can't make a shift, due to illness or a last-minute emergency, the responsibility needs to be on that employee to find a replacement to fill in. This also opens a communication network amongst your team, which also improves morale and builds team unity.
Be open to automation. Templates are almost the perfect end-all solution for employee scheduling, but it has it limitations. Automation assists managers in following state-to-state/ county-to-county labor laws and streamlines the schedule creation process in minutes.
The Power of Automation
Utilizing technologically advanced tools with daily operational practices, like scheduling, are essential in modern business. Between maintaining employee morale and following the everchanging labor laws, attempting to appease everyone is a job that's easier said than done.
However, employers must take the necessary measures to focus on employee well-being, beginning with how they are scheduled.
These systems make it easy to create schedules, track work hours, and calculate those hours for payroll. It's also the easiest way to distribute weekly/monthly schedules, as employees will receive push notifications on their smartphones when a new schedule goes live and when time-off requests have been approved or denied.
When looking to upgrade operational processes, automation is always the right solution.