*Having an employee schedule template is not a bad idea. A weekly schedule template for Excel is a bad idea. Excel is great for a lot of things. Your employee schedule is not one of them. This article will tell you exactly why.*
Oh, Excel. The darling of the 20th-century business world. It’s comfortable and familiar like the old blanket my two-year-old drags around with him. It’s one of the most commonly used tools in business.
So, why wouldn’t you use Excel for creating your work schedule? Excel is good for some things. But, not everything. Search the web for “free work schedule template” and you’ll find over 15 million ways you can apply this antiquated solution to your scheduling process, too.
There’s a reason there are over a billion Excel users worldwide. It was a big improvement in business efficiency. It meant we no longer had to deal with data on paper.
I’d say we’ve made a few more advancements since then. Cloud-computing, mobile devices that can send a rocket to the moon, and artificial intelligence to name a few. There are many, many reasons why Excel’s time has come.
The idea of creating a template is not a bad idea. In fact, creating a template using employee scheduling software will save you tons of time. It’s creating a template in Excel (or other spreadsheet programs) that is holding you back.
Here are a few reasons why your weekly employee schedule template for Excel needs to go in the recycle bin ASAP.
Your employees hate your Excel template.
If you’re running a business, you know that it matters how your employees feel. If we summed up the way they feel about your Excel schedules it would contain expletives that we don’t want to share here. Here are just a few of the reasons, without the cursing:
It’s not accessible.
Your employees need to have easy access to the schedule. They need to know when they work. Accessibility today is all about one thing: mobile.
Your employees hate that they can’t access your printed Excel spreadsheet on their phones when they need to. They don’t like wrestling with Excel files that you email them and trying to open and view them on their devices. Once they finally find the email and open the attachment they discover it’s not even the most current version.
Maybe you just post your schedule on a wall in the breakroom? Requiring employees to be in a physical location to access the schedule is even worse.
> Excel does not make it easy for your employees to access the latest version of the schedule whenever they want, wherever they want, and on any device, they want to.
Your Excel sheet can’t send them reminders.
Your employees appreciate reminders that help them remember when they have a shift coming up. Your Excel template does not give them the option to opt-in to receive notifications on their phone when they need to go to work. It doesn’t remind them to clock-in.
> They want to remember when they work just as much as you want them to.
They don’t like having to transfer their shift information to their personal calendars on their phone each week. This takes time and makes them vulnerable to errors.
It’s too rigid and limiting.
Employees will want to swap a shift, drop a shift, or pick one up. Using Excel to manage your schedule means that you will have to make these changes and then re-print.
> Your employees want to be able to make schedule ajdustments quickly and easily without bottlenecks.
They will need to update their availability when they think of things that come up during the week. Your spreadsheet is not agile and powerful enough to handle these complex requirements.
Communication is thrown into chaos.
When your schedule is an Excel template and your employees need to communicate about it with you, any communication will happen somewhere else.
> They will have to email you, text you, write a note, give you a call, relay a message using another employee, or even use a napkin!?
All that communication is hard for them to keep track of and it’s one more thing they have to worry about during the week. They lose track of what they told you about their availability, vacation time, leaving early, switching shifts, and anything else regarding the schedule.
Scheduling is all about communication. This chaos causes them to make mistakes regarding their attendance which can impact their job. Getting the schedule to your employees is only half the battle. They want to always be in-the-loop and keep you in the loop, too.
It’s holding your business back.
Excel is frustratingly slow and out-of-sync with the rest of your business.
Like when you spend a couple hours carefully entering the data needed for this week’s schedule on your spreadsheet and you realize that you didn’t use the latest version when you started. Gah!!
So, you restart and you think you nailed it this time. Then, you open your email to send it out and discover that, during the couple hours you just spent re-creating the schedule, you’ve received three emails from employees with updates that nuke the schedule you just meticulously crafted, again.
> Excel is static. It’s too slow for creating the schedule today.
It does not allow everyone to contribute and update in real-time. This makes your job creating the schedule much more difficult and prolonged. It also places the responsibility of creating the schedule squarely on your shoulders.
It creates data silos.
*Silo* is defined as “isolate from others.” This should not be an accurate description of your schedule.
When you use an Excel template to create your schedule each week you are not integrating that data with the other tools that you use to manage your business. It cannot digitize and export or integrate with your payroll system. It exists apart from your time clock data.
Managers today should have scheduling, timekeeping, attendance, and payroll all rolled into one. And, you should be able to integrate or export data to work with your other tools as well.
Managing multiple locations is even more complex.
If you’re creating a schedule for more than one location this will require multiple spreadsheets. You will have to keep track of which employees work at which locations. If you have employees that work at multiple locations you have to be extra careful not to double schedule them.
You can spend hours tweaking an Excel template to fit each of your locations just right. Then, one thing can change which completely ruins your template and you have to start all over again. Excel templates are just snapshots for one point in time that serve as a starting point. This is useful if you’re creating a schedule in a vacuum where everything stays the same all the time.
You’re more likely to make mistakes.
Excel doesn’t tell you when you schedule an employee during a time they said they were unavailable in real-time. Excel has no way of checking if your shifts conflict with data you have elsewhere or in other workbooks. It will not tell you how your planned schedule looks in terms of projected labor costs.
Do you make typos? That’s a silly question. We all do! (This post likely supports this claim.) A simple error, like fat-fingering a number here or there, can wreak havoc on your schedule way too easily.
Up to 88 percent of Excel spreadsheets contain errors. Manual data entry is prone to errors. Contrast this with simple drag and drop interfaces of employee schedule software.
It doesn’t handle changes well.
The schedule never needs to be changed once you publish it, right? Yeah — right. Sitting back down at your desk and opening up that spreadsheet to start the process over again is painful.
Every time you hit send to share your latest Excel schedule you are just waiting to receive the first cringe-worthy email from an employee letting you know you forgot about their request for Saturday.
Here we go, again.
A schedule is never perfect, but you can get much closer by using a tool that allows you to always have all the data you need automatically factored in while you drag and drop shifts around on a beautiful high-level weekly view of your calendar.
No more re-printing.
No more repetitive emailing, texts, and phone calls.
> Excel was designed to store data on spreadsheets. When you store data representing time and people’s lives, that data tends to become outdated very quickly.
It chains you to your desk and wastes time.
This is a big one. Using Excel chains you to your desk. Managers who use modern employee scheduling apps can make changes and adjustments on the fly while interacting with their customers and employees.
> You should be building and strengthening relationships, not in a back room building tables and staring at your desktop.
Be out and about and have the peace-of-mind that you’ve got the right employees, in the right place, at the right times, all the time.
It prevents you from having everything in one place.
It’s difficult to search through workbooks of Excel sheets and compile reports using data that is scattered across different sheets and tools. You need to be able to reference an employee’s work history with ease. Or, compare how your scheduled hours line up with actual hours worked. Having a central source of truth for everything around the schedule will make all of this much easier.
> Not having all the communication, scheduling data, and time clock data in one central place means that you will waste lots of time searching across various communication tools or compiling this data when needed.
Keep a record of everything, all in one place. Availability info, attendance tracking, swaps, notes, feedback, discussions, messages, and even when you’re employees receive notifications.
> If your scheduling tool is out of date, your communication tools are going to be, too.
It simply must go.
Excel can get the job done. My two year old can also “wash his blankie.” It doesn’t mean he should.
Your employee schedule is too important and has too big of an impact on your business to let it be handled by technology that was invented around the same time as the wheel (close enough).
You’re managing the most important resource we have on this planet: __time__. You can do it more simply and powerfully with employee scheduling software. It’s time to ditch your Excel weekly employee schedule template. You deserve it. Your employees deserve it, too.