Creating work schedules can be complex, depending on how many employees you’re trying to manage. The amount of shifts in a given day, their length and how many employees are needed to effectively fill each shift are the main factors involved in making a work schedule. Overtime and on-off work patterns should also be considered, especially when dealing with a work schedule that includes working weekends. To make things easier for the person creating the schedule and for the employees, it may be easier to operate on fixed shifts (working at the same time each scheduled day).

Things You Will Need
  • Employee roster

  • Computer

  • Printer


Step 1.

Divide the workday into definable shifts. Depending on how many hours the company is open each day, a single shift can last anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. The type of work involved plays a role in deciding the length of a shift. Environmental conditions (extreme heat and cold, heavy physical labor) might be the deciding factor since the health and safety of employees should always be considered.

Step 2.

Decide how many employees need to work during each shift. Companies that employ limited personnel rarely have more than a few people working during each shift, but larger companies require more employees working at once. In retail situations, more employees are often needed on certain days (weekends) and sometimes during specific times of the day or year.

Step 3.

Create an on-off work pattern. If your company remains open 7 days a week, the regular Monday to Friday schedule can’t apply to all employees. If at all possible, try to ensure that employees have two consecutive days off, regardless of what those exact days are.

Step 4.

Separate the employees into full- and part-time categories. In terms of scheduling, full-time employees should work 40 hours per week (anything over that is considered overtime) while part-time employees work as needed by the company. Record each employee’s preferred shift options (days, afternoons, evenings) so that they can receive a more regular work pattern.

Step 5.

Plot out a rough schedule using all of the collected information. You can do this by creating your own calendar on the computer or by using a large desktop calendar. Divide each day into shifts and fill in employee names for each shift. Input one employee at a time into the schedule so that it’s easier to keep track of their shifts and on-off work pattern.


Remember to include any vacation days that employees may have requested during the scheduling period.

Only schedule overtime when it’s necessary, since excessive overtime can cause low employee morale.

Stick to either a fixed or rotating schedule rather than alternating between the two.