How to Create a Schedule for Workers

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Creating a schedule that satisfies all employees is usually an impossible task. It's more an art than a science, but by following these steps, you can make a schedule that gives you the coverage you need.

Know the employment law for your state. How many hours constitute full time? How many constitute part time? Overtime and benefits can be affected if you schedule incorrectly.

Count the total hours needed. If you have a hair salon and need to have two stylists during a 12-hour day, you really need 24 hours of people time. Depending on the number of shifts or hours in a workday, this can actually translate to needing four people for 6 hours, or two people for 12 hours. Determine your total hours for the one- or two-week period that your schedule will cover.

Count the manpower hours you have available. How many hours can each employee work based on full-time or part-time status, preference or request? Has anyone requested vacation time for that period? Keep in mind any holidays or special events that could affect the number of customers, clients or patients who come in, and add or subtract hours as necessary. Once you have determined the hours you have available, you're ready to match them to the hours needed.

Make a chart with the days of the week going across the top and each staff member's name going down on the left side. For each day, write down the hours that need to be staffed. Then start to fill in the chart with who will work those days---and write in pencil. You may make changes along the way.

Add it up. Check to see if you have covered your total hours. Then check to see if your employees have received the hours you want to give them. Have the full-time employees received more hours than the part-time ones? Has the employee with the night class been scheduled to work every evening? Reassign shifts as needed so you have a schedule that accommodates employees as much as possible, while still being efficient.


  • No matter how much you finesse the schedule, someone is probably going to be unhappy, but by using a reliable system, you can create a schedule that satisfies the majority of employees and meets your business needs. Be consistent in your methods so you'll be able to explain your methodology to employees. Keep your best schedules so you can rotate them in again.