Using free employee schedule templates saves time from having to manually create Excel-based employee schedules. Employers can choose from numerous templates depending on their business hours and scheduling pattern, including one-day, weekly, 24/7, and shift. As an alternative, free scheduling software can provide schedule templates offering more flexibility, like time-off requests and shift swaps.
Free Excel Employee Schedule Templates & How to Use Them
To help schedule your employees, we’ve provided four kinds of employee scheduling templates below. Each of these can be modified using basic spreadsheet skills such as adding rows and columns or formatting in either Excel or Google Sheets.
You might consider adding separate tabs in your spreadsheet as well—perhaps one to gather employee input on when they can work and another to use as the final version. Another option is to duplicate your schedule in a separate tab as a start to next week’s template.
Here are the four free employee schedule templates for you to download and customize:
1. Daily Schedule Template for Scheduling Employees
Use this daily schedule when you need to schedule employees day by day with specific information that they’ll need each hour or shift. This one-day schedule is great for service businesses that assign employees to specific kinds of work throughout the day and want to specify break and lunchtimes. What this daily schedule lacks is a way to show employees which days they’re scheduled to work for the entire week; however, you can add a separate tab in your spreadsheet for each day.
Modifying the Daily Employee Schedule Template
To use this daily employee template, first, download a copy of it. You can then input the names of your employees and their roles. Then manually type in their start and end times for each day. You can also indicate what role or work they’ll be doing. The template is built in a spreadsheet, and you can insert additional rows if you need to schedule more than a dozen employees.
2. Weekly Schedule Template for Standard Work Weeks
Use this weekly employee schedule template when you have staff that work your standard business hours, such as in a retail or service shop that’s open five, six, or seven days a week. In fact, if your business works Saturday or Sunday, there’s room to input those hours. Otherwise, for office team schedules, you can delete the weekend columns if you don’t need them.
Modifying the Weekly Employee Schedule Template
To use the weekly employee schedule template, download a copy of it and save it to your computer or shared drive. This template is a bit more complex than the daily schedule template as it allows you to input each person’s start and end time for an entire week. You’ll be able to see at a glance the total number of hours for which employees are scheduled to work. The weekly Excel employee schedule template is helpful in avoiding overtime and also ensures that you don’t over- or under-schedule your part-time workers.
3. 24/7 Schedule Template for Businesses Operating Round-the-Clock
This 24/7 employee schedule can help service businesses like senior care providers, security agencies, or manufacturing firms that operate multiple shifts keep track of employees throughout an entire seven-day workweek. It can also ensure that workers aren’t overscheduled and that you have coverage at all times of the day.
Modifying the 24/7 Employee Schedule Template
This template adds the ability to schedule employees around the clock. It contains a week’s schedule on one spreadsheet. This 24/7 employee schedule template provides you with the ability to indicate the job role of each worker using a drop-down menu. Like the other templates, you can add rows and columns using either Google Sheets or Excel to customize it to your operation.
Because this template is a bit more complex, we’ve provided the four steps in Sheets you’d need to follow to customize your job roles:
- Select the range of cells you’d like to change.
- Right-click and select “Data validation.”
- Criteria should be on “List of Items.” Add the name of each position to the list (separated by a comma).
- Click Save.
4. Shift Schedule Template for Restaurants & Retail
Most retail and food service businesses schedule employees around specific times of the day. For example, your restaurant is likely to need more staff during lunch and dinner than mid-afternoon. Likewise, a small tourist shop may be busier midday than on weekends. This schedule accommodates those shifts easily and allows you to add more people at times of the day your business is busier. In addition, you can add details for each employee shift, such as job role or assigned workstation.
Modifying the Shift Schedule Template
Once you’ve downloaded the shift schedule template, you can change the names of the job roles by typing in each cell. Similarly, you can modify the names of your shifts—such as shift 1, shift 2, shift 3—by replacing the existing (breakfast, lunch, dinner) text. You can also customize your colors, add rows for additional employees, and add columns for additional shifts, like if you schedule only four-hours per shift.
How Employee Scheduling Templates Work
At a minimum, your Excel employee schedule template should have information on when your workers are scheduled and what position they’ll be working. For example, you may have a waiter who works in the bar Sunday afternoons but in the dining room on other days. Or perhaps one of your sales clerks is assigned to work the closing shift on Mondays only.
Your employee schedule template should include:
- Timeframe: Your schedule should match your workweek. For example, a Monday through Saturday retail operation will likely use a six-day scheduling template.
- Shifts: Workdays are typically divided into shifts, such as morning daypart for a restaurant or opening shift for a retail store.
- Hours: You’ll want to include the start and end time of each employee’s day or shift and how many hours they’re scheduled on a given day or week.
- Worker Names: Your schedule template will need space to include the name of each employee on the schedule. For instance, if you’re building a Monday-Friday schedule, you’ll need to list the names of every employee who is scheduled to work for the week.
- Location: It’s helpful if employees know where they’ll be working. For example, you may have one worker on the register and another who will work in the warehouse.
- Roles: Workers like to know what they’ll be assigned to do. For example, if Bill normally works in electronics doing sales but will be scheduled for a four-hour trade show booth, that’s helpful to know.
If you include the information above, you’ll have an employee schedule template that can accommodate the needs of your small businesses in one location with a small team. Once your team grows larger, or you need to schedule workers across multiple locations, you may need scheduling software. Meanwhile, we’ve provided four free downloadable Excel employee schedule templates to give you a head start.
Sharing Your Employee Schedule Template with Staff
The most obvious benefit of sharing employee schedules as a spreadsheet with your staff is that everyone can have access to the schedule. If you’d like, you can make the schedule editable, giving your employees the opportunity to add their names to the shifts they want.
Here’s how to share a work schedule template using Google Sheets:
- Click Share in the upper right corner.
- Add the email addresses of people that have permission to edit.
- Leave a note informing people when the edit period will end.
- Click Send.
By sharing access to your employee schedule template, your team may be happier with their work hours while you maintain control over the final schedule. You’ll do this without the clutter and confusion of printouts, emails, or Post-its, and everyone will have access to the schedule from any desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
Who an Employee Scheduling Template is Right For
An employee scheduling template makes sense in any kind of business that needs to plan employee work schedules in advance, such as a nail salon needing to ensure it has enough nail techs to service customers during the busiest time of day or a nonprofit that needs to make sure it has adequate staff to help families at the food bank.
Here are the kinds of businesses that will find an employee scheduling template helpful:
- Any business scheduling hourly workers: An employee scheduling template helps ensure you place workers into the schedule on the days and times your business needs work done. It keeps track of which days and hours are covered and which are not.
- Any company that wants to control overtime: An Excel employee scheduling template helps manage the hours a worker is scheduled—to reduce overtime costs.
- Any firm that wants to make schedules fair: By using a work scheduling template you can make sure your job assignments are fair—for example preventing one person from always getting the busiest section.
- Any entity that wants to plan ahead: A nonprofit might use a scheduling template to assign volunteers to open shifts noticing in advance where they may need more help.
Here are questions you might ask yourself to determine exactly what you’ll need:
- How do employees request time off?
- Can employees trade shifts? If so, how do they request shift changes?
- Will you post open/free shifts and wait for employees to fill them?
- If scheduling changes are allowed, do they require managerial approval?
- When will schedules be posted? When does the schedule become final?
- If an employee is sick, who do they call, and how will their shift get filled?
- Does the schedule work to limit overtime hours?
- Does the template ensure part time workers aren’t scheduled for too many hours?
- Who’s in charge of making sure everyone sees the schedule?
- Is there a way for employees to confirm they’ve received and agree to the schedule?
There is a lot to consider and coordinate when it comes to good employee scheduling. That’s why some business owners migrate from Excel employee schedule templates to cloud-based versions like When I Work that keep track of time-off requests and shift changes in real time.
The great news here is that our four employee scheduling templates are free. You simply download and customize them based on your scheduling needs. In fact, many scheduling software apps provide free templates as well. Others offer the scheduling software entirely free to smaller businesses.
Here are the costs you might incur using an Excel employee scheduling template:
- Spreadsheet software: If you build your schedule in Excel, you’ll need MS Excel software which costs $129. An alternative is to use Google Sheets, which is free.
- Your time: Using a template is a manual process and each time you have a change (employee request time off or shift change), you need time to update and resend it.
- Communication tool: You’ll need some way to communicate your schedule and changes to employees—perhaps an email account or text messaging service? Many are free.
Many time and attendance apps offer free employee scheduling templates. If you’re building a shift schedule for retail or restaurant workers, Homebase is a great option—because it provides your workers with a free scheduling, timekeeping, and a communication app. As long as you’re creating a schedule for one location only it remains free forever. Get your free Homebase account and scheduling app for unlimited users.
Employee Schedule Providers
In addition to the free Excel employee scheduling templates you can download above, you’ll find that many scheduling and timekeeping software tools have free built-in scheduling tools. In addition, most will allow you to customize and save your own template so you don’t have to recreate it from week to week—this is helpful when your team members work regular shifts.
Here are software providers that offer employee scheduling templates:
1. Employee Scheduling Software
Employee scheduling software tools, like When I Work, are designed to make scheduling easy. They work by having you preload your employee data into the software with relevant information such as their job title and email address. You then build and update your schedule online using drag and drop tools. Most allow you to publish your employee work schedule via email or an app, and employees are usually able to request changes online.
2. Time & Attendance Software
Time and attendance software, like Homebase, act as a virtual time clock for your business. Most provide scheduling tools as well so you can see what your labor costs are going to be or manage your overtime costs. Once the schedule is built, employees use it to clock in and out of each shift, and you can program it to prevent early clock-ins, thereby saving you money.
3. POS Software
If you’re using a modern POS system, like Square, you likely have historical sales records. You can filter these records by week, day, and even shift. With this information available to you, you’ll be able to accurately predict your staffing needs far in advance. Some POS software provide scheduling tools and may even have features such as weather predictions that may affect your staffing needs.
4. Appointment Scheduling Software
If your employees are scheduled based on client appointments such as for a cleaning service, barber, or tattoo shop, you might find that appointment scheduling software, like Square Appointments works better than a spreadsheet to help you plan each day’s work. This software can often manage individual employee and department scheduling on a daily basis, and some even accept client payments.
5. Project Management Software
Some newer project management tools, like Monday, provide pre-built scheduling templates to keep track of your staff and ensure everyone’s on the same page regarding who’s performing each job in your business. These templates work best for task-based scheduling such as planning contractors to work at a construction site or scheduling designers for a customer marketing campaign.
6. Chart and Diagram Software
Many chart and diagram tools provide pre-built templates including employee schedules that you can alter with your colors, logo, and images. These may be best when you’re building an event schedule such as for a conference and want to be able to share a daily or weekly schedule with attendees while also keeping track of which team members will be where.
7. Calendar Schedule
For a quick and easy schedule, consider using a shared calendar like Google or Outlook. These allow all users to see who’s working where. They’re best for office staff or smaller businesses that want everyone to see who’s doing what (such as who’s in meetings, who’s with clients, or who’s attending training). However, when you have multiple workers on the same shift, it can get difficult to view in a calendar format.
Pros & Cons of Using an Excel Employee Schedule Template
An employee schedule template helps to ensure you and your employees are in agreement on when they’ll work. On the one hand, you can save your data from week to week either as a tab or in a separate document making it easy to use. On the other hand, you won’t have as much flexibility as you would with one of the newer online scheduling apps.
Pros of the Using an Excel Employee Scheduling Template
Here are some of the benefits of using a template:
- Staffing accuracy: You’ll be able to plan in advance who is working; if you share the schedule with your staff in advance, they’re also less likely to have last-minute conflicts.
- Overtime avoidance: With an employee scheduling template, you can see who is likely to run into overtime and adjust the work schedule in advance.
- Improved communication: Your employee scheduling template can be used as a communication tool to let employees know when and where you need them to work.
- Less stress: Employees prefer to know what days and hours they’ll work so that they can have a balanced life, reducing concerns that they’ll get a last-minute call to come in.
- Reduced turnover: According to a report issued by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), when managers more closely considered employees’ scheduling needs, they had 22.9% lower turnover.
Take it from John Waldmann, Founder and CEO of Homebase:
“Scheduling is a hard task for managers, but it’s also tough for employees,” John said. “Publishing the schedule in advance and accommodating shift trades guarantees that your team will have more time to plan for life around work. It’s a simple way to reduce errors and the stress of uncertainty.”
—John Waldmann, Founder and CEO, Homebase
Cons of an Employee Scheduling Template
Here are some of the drawbacks of using an employee scheduling template:
- Manual leave tracking: A paper employee scheduling template can’t keep track of who’s on vacation or who plans to leave early (school event, doctor’s appointment). You’ve got to keep that information in your head or track it elsewhere such as on a calendar app.
- Manual data entry: Using a traditional employee scheduling template requires you to manually key in worker’s names and work dates. There’s no drag and drop functionality.
- Last-minute changes: Using a paper employee scheduling template makes it difficult to do last-minute changes such as to find a replacement when someone calls in sick.
- Complexity: Each time you add an employee, your schedule will become more and more complex until it feels like you’re spending most of your time modifying your schedule instead of managing your staff.
- Doesn’t scale: As your operations expand and the number of employees you manage grows, your employee scheduling needs may need to be more automated. Working from a manual employee schedule template probably won’t cut it.
Alternatives to an Excel Employee Scheduling Template
Employee scheduling software and apps are a great alternative to using a manual or Excel employee scheduling templates. In addition to drag and drop scheduling features and pre-built templates, tools like When I Work and Homebase offer basic leave management and employee communication features that keep you and your staff in sync in real time.
Here are great alternatives to an employee scheduling template:
When I Work
When I Work offers free employee scheduling software to any small business that has 75 or fewer employees. It provides employee scheduling, a communication app, time off requests and approvals, plus a manager dashboard. It’s recently added free time tracking and staff recruiting options to the mix. Small businesses using When I Work rate it highly. See for yourself by reading our When I Work online reviews. Sign up for your free When I Work account.
Homebase, like When I Work, provides employee scheduling, employee messaging, shift swapping and time-off requests. Homebase provides an app with a chat feature that lets you communicate one-on-one, or with the whole team at once. The Homebase reviews are pretty solid too. Homebase is free for one location and includes a feature that lets you save your schedule as a template. Sign up for Homebase free for your business location.
Square Appointments works better for businesses that schedule their employees based on client work such as a salon, consulting firm, or therapists. What’s nice about it is that it links to the POS, so once the client service is complete they can pay through the app. Here’s our complete review of Square Appointments. Visit Square Appointments.
Zenefits is an HR software that goes well beyond a mere scheduling template. It offers employee scheduling tools as well as employee data management, timekeeping, employee benefits, and payroll. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for your small business employees starting at $8 a month per employee, Zenefits is a great option. Check out these online reviews of Zenefits. Then, sign up for your free Zenefits demo.
Zoho People is a more basic low-cost HR software that includes shift scheduling and shift rotation. It also allows you to create custom forms and documents while storing employee data. You can build your schedules in Zoho People and request e-signatures for end of shift documents like tip logs. Check out our Zoho People review and pricing guide—it starts as low as $2 per employee per month. Get a free 15-day trial of ZohoPeople.
SmartSheet is project management software that runs from $14 to $25 per month per user. It provides pre-built templates in Excel and can help schedule workers for any kind of business as well as manage their work tasks and accomplishments. Read our SmartSheet review for more insight.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Employee Schedule Templates
The truth is, your employee schedule template is likely to be as unique as your business. Therefore, we’ve attempted to address questions you may have below as a start. You can ask your own questions on our forum as well. We typically respond within one business day.
Can I build an employee schedule template in MS Word?
Yes, you can build employee schedules in most word processing apps including MS Word and Google Docs. You’ll simply use the table feature, adding days at the top and employee names on the left-hand side. However, making changes in this format is more time-consuming with the simple cut and paste options. Here are some MS Word schedule templates to start with.
Does any labor law require us to keep old employee schedules?
Federal and state labor laws require you to keep lots of different kinds of payroll documents including time cards. But it’s not likely you’ll need to retain employee schedules unless you anticipate employee complaints. If one were to file a lawsuit claiming they’re being treated unfairly due to their protected class, such as race, gender, or disability, it won’t hurt to have a copy of the schedule to prove otherwise. Here’s more on payroll document retention requirements.
Are there laws that affect scheduling such as how long I give breaks?
Some states, like California, have very specific labor laws that determine how employees are paid and when breaks are required. However, no federal law mandates employee schedules. Check out our article on rest and meal breaks for state-specific information.
Employee scheduling is an essential part of running a small business. Our free employee schedule templates will save you time from having to build your schedule from scratch. A well-communicated schedule is likely to help you reduce turnover and absenteeism. Plus, it may improve team productivity. All of that means more money in your bank account at the end of the day.
To make your life easier and take your employee scheduling to the next level, enlist the help of free software such as When I Work. It allows you to schedule employees, see who’s clocked-in, and track time on the go with a handy mobile app. Get your free account for scheduling up to 75 workers.