Wrangling your workforce may seem like a job in itself, but when you add Microsoft Excel to your roster, you can save time and effort to focus elsewhere. Tap into Excel’s template collection to prepare employee work schedules where you have the ability to rely on existing forms and automatic calculations to instantly see where you may need to adjust staff headcount. Once you have created an Excel schedule, you can reuse it on a weekly basis, making tweaks and adjustments as required.

Start Excel, click the “File” tab and select “New.” Double-click the “Schedules” button on the “Available Templates” screen.

Double-click the “Business schedules” file folder icon. Scroll through the templates and double-click one that closely matches your employee work schedule needs, such as one of the “Employee shift schedule” options. The template downloads and opens in the Excel window. Review the template to get a sense of the placeholder text and what you’ll need to change.

Click into one of the pre-populated cells with employees’ names, usually in the leftmost column. Type over the false employee name with the first person you are scheduling. Repeat this to add all of your employee’s names for that day – most templates start with Monday. If there are more placeholder employee rows than you need, right-click that row header, such as #7, and select “Delete.” To add employees, right-click a row header and choose “Insert” to add a blank line.

Repeat this process to customize all of the names for each day of the week on the schedule. If you didn’t add or delete any lines, you can simply copy the cells with the employees’ names, highlight the placeholder cells in the next day of the week, right-click and select “Paste,” replacing the placeholder names with your workforce.

Review the times – on most templates, running across the top of the grid – for the schedule. To make adjustments, such as starting the work day at 6:00am instead of 7:00am, click into that cell and type over the data. Repeat to change any other cell times.

Review what the template has included as notes for each employee on the grid. Some templates show what the employee would be doing, such as “Front desk” and “Warehouse.” To delete this information, highlight all of the cells containing it and press the “Delete” key. To schedule employees for work, you can simply type an “X” in each cell the person is required to be at work. For example, to show a person is scheduled from 9:00am to 12:00pm, type an “X” in each associated cell.

Make any changes to the placeholder column for “Total” or “Daily Hours.” You can calculate and input this information by hand or use an Excel macro. Highlight all of the cells in an employee’s row, including the cell under the “Total” or “Daily Hours” column. Click the “AutoSum” button on the “Home” tab. Excel will automatically calculate how many hours you have scheduled for this person that day. One benefit of using AutoSum is that if you change the person’s hours, Excel will automatically recalculate the hours in the Total column without you having to redo anything.

Type over any placeholder information at the top of the grid, varying by template, such as the week dates for the schedule, the company name, the name of the department or team being scheduled and any kind of message such as “Let’s have a great week!”

Add a company logo to the schedule by clicking the “Insert” tab, then clicking the “Picture” button. Browse to where a digital copy of the logo resides on your network and double-click it.

Click the “File” menu and choose “Save As.” Type a date to use as the file name or a name for the schedule and select where to save it. Click the “Save” button.