How to Make An Effective Schedule For Employees [Free Template]

Author: Madalina Roman

Creating an efficient and well-structured schedule for employees is not just a routine task; it’s a critical element that directly impacts productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall business success. 

A well-crafted employee schedule balances the business’s needs with its workforce’s one, promoting harmony and optimizing operations.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to create a schedule for employees with a free template and why it’s vital to foster productivity, engagement, and work-life balance.

Free schedule templates
Download free schedule templates for your team

What is a schedule for employees?

A schedule for employees, often called an employee schedule or work schedule, is a predetermined plan that outlines when and where employees are expected to work. It details the shifts, days off, and tasks assigned to each employee for a specific period, typically a week or a month.

Employee schedules are crucial for managing a workforce, ensuring that business operations run smoothly while accommodating employee preferences and maintaining work-life balance.

Employee schedules can vary widely depending on the nature of the business, industry, and the preferences of the employees.

Some businesses may require fixed schedules, while others might use rotating shifts or more flexible scheduling approaches.

The primary goal of any employee schedule is to ensure that the correct number of employees with the appropriate skills are present to meet the demands of the business while respecting employees’ needs and well-being.

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Understanding the importance of employee scheduling

Employee scheduling is more than just slotting in names to fill time slots. It’s about aligning the right people with the right tasks at the right times, ensuring that your business operates like a well-oiled machine. Those are the benefits of a well-thought-out schedule:

  • Enhance productivity: matching employee skills and strengths to specific shifts can increase efficiency and output.
  • Improve employee engagement: involving employees in the scheduling process can boost their sense of ownership and engagement.
  • Minimize burnout: preventing overworking and ensuring adequate rest can prevent burnout and enhance morale.
  • Enable better customer service: assigning skilled employees during peak times can improve customer satisfaction.
  • Optimize labor costs: balancing labor demand with the workforce can reduce unnecessary overtime expenses.

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How to create an employee schedule for your company

1. Analyzing business needs and employee availability

Before crafting a schedule, it’s crucial to analyze your business’s specific needs and your employees’ availability. 

Consider factors like peak business hours, seasonal trends, and your industry’s unique requirements. Simultaneously, gather information about employee availability, preferences, and potential constraints.

2. Choose the right scheduling approach

There are several scheduling approaches to consider:

  • Fixed scheduling: employees have set schedules that remain consistent week to week. This provides stability but can lack flexibility.
  • Rotating scheduling: employees rotate through different shifts or days off. This can ensure fair distribution of undesirable shifts but may disrupt personal routines.
  • Open shift scheduling: employees have the flexibility to choose shifts within certain parameters. This promotes employee autonomy but requires careful monitoring.
  • Split shift scheduling: employees work multiple shifts in one day with a break in between. This suits industries with irregular peak hours.
  • On-call scheduling: employees are on standby and only work when needed. This suits industries with unpredictable demand.
Free schedule templates

Download free schedule templates for your team

3. Take into consideration the key components of an employee schedule

There are crucial details that should be included in an employee schedule –  let’s analyze them.

  • Shifts: these are designated periods during which employees are expected to work. Shifts can be categorized as morning, afternoon, evening, or night shifts, and they vary in duration based on the needs of the business.
  • Days off: days when employees are not scheduled to work. These can be weekends, holidays, or specific days employees request for personal reasons.
  • Task assignments: along with shifts, schedules can include details about the tasks or responsibilities each employee is expected to perform during working hours. This ensures that the right people are assigned to the appropriate tasks.
  • Employee names: indicate which employees are assigned to each shift or task. This prevents confusion and helps managers track who works at any given time.
  • Availability: information about employee availability helps managers schedule shifts that align with employees’ preferences and restrictions. It helps prevent conflicts and ensures that employees are not scheduled when unavailable.
  • Breaks: schedule breaks and meal periods are essential to prevent employee fatigue and maintain productivity throughout the workday.
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  • Overtime: if necessary, employee schedules may also include provisions for overtime shifts, which are additional hours worked beyond the regular schedule.
  • Shift swaps and requests: some scheduling systems allow employees to request shift swaps with their colleagues or request time off directly through the scheduling tool. This flexibility empowers employees to manage their work schedule within specific guidelines set by the employer.
  • Contact Information: in case of unexpected changes or emergencies, having contact information for each employee on the schedule can be valuable for communication.

4. Use time tracking tools and scheduling apps

Investing in employee scheduling and time tracking software can streamline the scheduling process, reduce errors, and improve time estimations. As time tracking is the first step towards proper time management, you cannot miss it.

Here are some of the tools that will boost your scheduling skills: 


Timeular is an effortless and accurate time tracking solution designed for teams aiming to track billable hours, maximize productivity, and generate precise client reports. Timeular is also one of the greatest attendance employee trackers that will make your life much easier.

Timeular offers quick insights into budgets, time allocation, and overtime. These valuable insights empower teams to make informed decisions fast, facilitating better resource management and allowing for prompt invoicing.

“Timeular helps highlight where the time is actually going, where energy leaks happen, and identify patterns in productivity peaks and valleys to create a more effective schedule.“

Paula Engebretson, certified life coach and host of the podcast, I’m Busy Being Awesome

Time tracking is effortless in Timeular

Timeular makes time tracking effortless with its incredibly intuitive interface and multiple tracking methods. In Timeular, your team can track time with multiple methods, finding the one that suits them best:

Automated timesheets and reporting


In Timeular, employees’ timesheets are built and updated automatically every day.

Timeular is also an automatic billable hours tracker that creates transparent time reports for your clients. The app provides a precise breakdown of your activities to ensure that each little task is tracked and added to your invoice. You can export your reports to PDF, XLSX, or CSV.

Top Timeular’s features that facilitate employee scheduling

  • Timeular offers integrations with up to 3,000 tools for invoicing, workforce management, and productivity.
  • Physical Tracker
  • Quicktrack, which allows starting new time entries with keyboard shortcuts
  • Easy time tracking everywhere you go thanks to a mobile app
  • Automated time tracking
  • Automated data visualization and insights
  • Accurate billing with custom reports & data export
  • Payroll tracker
  • Shared folders to track time with your team
  • Automated, accurate, and great-looking reports for clients
  • Overtime tracker

Time tracking is a crucial part of creating schedules for employees, and Timeular is the best tool on the market to do it. When you are aware of the time on each task, you will be able to manage your employee’s workload and workdays better.

Timeular also works as a reliable and efficient productivity tracker.

Uplift your employee scheduling process!

Try Timeular for free. Start your 30 days free trial with your team.


A comprehensive workforce management solution that not only helps in scheduling but also assists with attendance management and task assignment.

A top scheduling app for small businesses, it offers features like intelligent scheduling, where the system considers employee availability, skills, and labor laws to generate optimal schedules. 


A powerful employee scheduling tool suitable for businesses with complex scheduling needs. It provides features like demand-based scheduling, allowing managers to align shifts with demand fluctuations.

The tool’s reporting and analytics capabilities offer insights into employee availability, scheduling trends, and labor costs, aiding data-driven decision-making.


Formerly known as ShiftPlanning, Humanity focuses on optimizing scheduling for industries with shift-based work, such as retail, healthcare, and hospitality.

Its dynamic scheduler considers employee skills, certifications, and preferences, ensuring that the right person is assigned to the right shift.

Humanity also offers employee self-service options, enabling staff to request time off and easily swap shifts.


This user-friendly scheduling tool suits a wide range of businesses, from small startups to large enterprises. Its drag-and-drop interface simplifies assigning shifts, and the tool provides insights into labor costs and overtime.

Additionally, Sling offers labor law compliance features, preventing unintentional scheduling violations.

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This app provides a straightforward and accessible solution for creating schedules, especially for businesses with part-time and hourly employees.

The platform includes a time clock and payroll integration, making it a one-stop solution for workforce management. Employees can set their availability, request time off, and trade shifts within the app.

TIP: Get to know the greatest time clock app on the market.

5. Prioritize employees’ preferences and work-life balance

While business needs are paramount, acknowledging and accommodating employee preferences can boost morale and job satisfaction.

Flexibility in scheduling, especially for employees with family or personal commitments, can create a positive work environment and increase retention rates.

6. Consider legal and ethical factors

Ensure that your scheduling practices align with labor laws, regulations, and industry standards. Avoid scheduling practices that could lead to excessive overtime or fatigue, as this can have legal and ethical implications.

7. Communication is key

Transparent and open communication is crucial when it comes to scheduling. Regularly communicate changes, updates, and expectations with your employees.

Encourage them to voice their concerns, suggest improvements, and collaborate on finding solutions.

Read also: Having troubles with communication? Get the best tips to improve team communication.

8. Monitor and adjust

Creating a schedule is not a one-time task. Continuously monitor its effectiveness and gather feedback from employees and supervisors.

Analyze data such as attendance, productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction to identify areas for improvement.

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9. Empower employees

Empower your employees by involving them in the scheduling process. Seek their input, consider their preferences, and provide opportunities for them to influence their schedules.

This sense of involvement can foster a stronger connection between employees and the organization.

10. Embrace continuous improvement

Employee scheduling is a dynamic process that evolves with your business and its workforce. Continuously seek ways to refine and enhance your scheduling strategies based on feedback, technological advancements, and changing business needs.
TIP: Feedback is critical to improve performance. Read ”Learn how to lead a team successfully.

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11. Consider time tracking

Time tracking is crucial in creating an effective and efficient schedule for employees. It provides essential data and insights that enable managers to make informed decisions when assigning shifts, managing labor costs, and optimizing workforce productivity. 

Benefits of time tracking for creating schedules

Here’s why time tracking is essential for making employee schedules.

1. Accurate workload distribution

Time tracking helps managers understand how much time employees spend on different tasks and projects. This information aids in creating balanced schedules that distribute tasks fairly among employees avoiding work overload.

By analyzing historical time tracking data, managers can identify patterns and allocate shifts according to each employee’s specific skills and strengths.

TIP: Ensure proper workload management and create a perfect schedule by doing an employee workload analysis.

2. Demand forecasting

Time tracking data can reveal peak business hours, seasonal fluctuations, and periods of increased or decreased demand. This insight allows managers to align employee shifts with these demand patterns, ensuring that the correct number of employees are scheduled during busy times while avoiding overstaffing during slower periods.

Read also: Workload planning tools

3. Right resource allocation

Time tracking helps managers determine optimal staffing levels for different shifts and days.

By reviewing historical data, they can identify when additional staff are needed or when fewer employees are sufficient.

This prevents understaffing, which can lead to poor customer service and/or increased stress on employees, and it prevents overstaffing, which can incur unnecessary labor costs.

Read also: What is resource allocation?

4. Preventing overtime and burnout

Effective time tracking allows managers to monitor employee work hours and prevent excessive overtime. It helps ensure that employees do not exceed their scheduled hours, saving labor costs and preventing burnout and fatigue.

By creating schedules that align with legal regulations and company policies, managers can promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees.

5. Data-driven decision making

Time tracking provides concrete data that can guide decision-making in scheduling.

Managers can analyze trends, identify bottlenecks, and address any inefficiencies in the scheduling process. This data-driven approach helps in making adjustments and improvements over time, resulting in more effective and optimized schedules.

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6. Fairness and transparency

Accurate time tracking helps maintain fairness and transparency in scheduling.

When schedules are based on objective data, employees are more likely to perceive the process as fair and equitable. This can enhance employee morale, reduce conflicts, and increase overall job satisfaction.

7. Adapting to changes

Workforce management is dynamic, and unexpected changes can occur.

Time tracking allows managers to quickly adapt to unforeseen events by reallocating resources and making adjustments to the schedule in real-time. This flexibility is crucial for maintaining operational continuity.

8. Resource allocation

Time tracking data aids in allocating resources efficiently. It helps in determining which tasks or projects are consuming more time than anticipated, enabling managers to allocate appropriate resources and adjust schedules accordingly.

Read also: The best resource scheduling and planning software

9. Employee engagement

When employees feel that their time is valued and utilized efficiently, it fosters a sense of purpose and commitment to their work.

Time tracking not only ensures accurate compensation for their efforts but also showcases the organization’s dedication to fair treatment. 

Furthermore, involving employees in the scheduling process and taking their availability and preferences into account demonstrates a commitment to their work-life balance and personal needs.


Creating an effective employee schedule requires an approach that balances the needs of the business with the well-being of its employees.

By understanding your business needs, utilizing the right tools, prioritizing employee preferences, and maintaining open communication, you can design a scheduling strategy that promotes productivity, engagement, and work-life balance. Remember, an optimized employee schedule isn’t just a logistical arrangement; it’s an investment in the success and sustainability of your business.

Looking forward to creating a work schedule for your company? Take advantage of our template and create a schedule that will improve efficiency, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction.

Free Employee Scheduling Template

Build an intuitive employee schedule with Timeular’s template! Hit ”Download” and make a copy of the template.

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