How to use an employee schedule template (with a downloadable Excel sheet)

Published on 1/11/2022 by Tessa Anaya and Caroline Rousseau

Human resource (HR) managers are often tasked with the challenge of creating and managing the work schedules of employees across all departments. To streamline this, an employee schedule template can be used and reused to keep track of the staff’s working hours. However, creating a straightforward employee schedule from scratch can be tricky. So, what are SMEs options for scheduling staff?

choose the right employee schedule template for your SME. download excel sheet with article

Depending on the number of employees in your SME, different solutions may be more or less efficient. For SMEs with frequently changing hours or special cases, employee planning software may be more apt to handle those needs. On the other hand, some HR professionals may find pre-made templates easiest to work with.  We’ve created a free to download Excel sheet to keep track of employee hours and absences.

What is an employee schedule?

Employee scheduling is the comprehensive process of organizing and monitoring the working hours of a company’s employees. It’s a vital part of human resource management, and is also paramount to ensuring operations are covered during business hours.

The schedule of leaves and absences

An employee schedule template is a tool that can be used to manage the hours, vacations and absences of employees to maintain productivity and performance. It is a summary of employee availability in calendar format, allowing managers to organize replacements based on skills and hours already worked.

Above all, the employee schedule also makes it possible to comply with legal obligations and company policies surrounding working hours while scheduling employees. It allows organizers to anticipate personnel needs, manage employee absences, and reduce the risk of scheduling errors with quick access to the most up-to-date information. Staff scheduling apps also simplify the process of requesting and approving absences.

Staff scheduling can be complex and time-consuming for HR departments, as it requires the linking of lots of disparate information. In our free Excel employee schedule template, we help you get started managing your staff’s leaves and absences.

An Excel employee schedule template for effective management

Our Excel employee schedule template takes into account paid leave (P), sick leave (S) and other leaves (O). The first sheet shows the list of employees and an annual calendar. Recording employee absences is done by entering the corresponding letter in the calendar in the employee’s row, according to the type of leave taken. The table will automatically calculate the number of absent days taken by each employee, as well as the number of employees absent on a given day, at the bottom of each column. 

download excel staff schedule template preview
Keep track of the staff’s daily attendance with our template.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Excel schedule

The main advantages of our Excel template are its simplicity, its practicality and, of course, its free availability. The intuitive interface simplifies daily management, allowing managers to fill in a box for absent employees and be done. The uncluttered graphics make it easy to interpret (you can adapt it to suit the corporate colours of your SME). 

However, the template has some limitations: it’s not conducive to collaborative absence management, and its design is not suitable for companies with more than 250 employees. It’s also possible that the manual insertion of information can sometimes lead to human error.

The essential functions of employee scheduling software

As a useful tool for managing work schedules within a company, employee scheduling software includes several features, the most important of which are:

  • Easy data insertion: this software allows you to record each employee’s unavailability and enter/organize the distribution of tasks according to employee skills or position.
  • Calendar view: these tools provide a calendar view (daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly) of individual employee schedules.
  • Notifications: this software can issue alerts in real-time if legal scheduling constraints are not adhered to or when an anomaly occurs.
  • Filters option: this feature allows you to find information faster by filtering, which can also offer a personalized display according to specific criteria.
  • Collaborative space: these tools have internal communication capabilities, allowing HR professionals, managers, and employees to interact within the software itself.

Three examples of employee scheduling software

There are a multitude of staff scheduling apps available, all offering a different range of features. To illustrate what the diverse selection could offer to your SME, Capterra chose three examples of employee scheduling software. These were selected from a list of local Canadian products, and also have the advantage of being available in both English and French. All selections received at least a 4 out of 5 rating from users.


schedule employee block schedule view of dashboard
Schedule shifts in blocks by department via the Synerion dashboard.

Synerion is a workforce management tool that allows you to efficiently manage tasks, projects, schedules, time off requests and employee absences. It offers several features, including leave tracking, task notifications and reminders, reporting, automated scheduling, shift trading, and mobile access for manager and employee alike. It also offers biometric identification such as facial recognition for added security.

  • This software is available starting at 2 US$ a month (around CA$2.50). There is no free version or free trial period of Synerion.


see hours worked by employees and payroll processing during employee scheduling
Company-wide report on hours worked and payment owed via TimeWellScheduled.

Offering a variety of features available at different price points, TimeWellScheduled is an attendance scheduling software that can suit both small and large organizations. Their tool takes care of all tasks related to staff management from time tracking to payroll. Employees can clock in using the software, access schedules via mobile, request time off and trade shifts directly. Managers will find the features related to absence management, exportable record keeping, expense tracking, and payroll most useful.

  • While this software is available starting at 3 US$ a month (around CA$4), a free trial version of the full features is available to try. There is also a free version available with limited features.


employee schedule shows gap in shift scheduling
Schedule available shifts using information on employee availability and skill sets via TrackTik dashboard.

Suitable for security providers and large businesses, TrackTik integrates various functionalities, including scheduling, real-time operation tracking, mobile GPS tracking, payroll and accounting integrations as well as a client portal. Checkpoints can be established in the physical workplace and employee updates are provided in real-time via SMS and email. While this software is focused on the security industry, these technology-forward features can be customized and automated to fit many organizations.

  • TrackTik is available from US$299 a month (around CA$380) and has various advantages, including adaptability to various sectors, compatibility with payroll software, and extensive mobile accessibility.

Going further

Thinking beyond tracking employee leaves and absences, employee management tools have much to offer SMEs. There are many crucial functions that employment scheduling tools can facilitate on a daily basis: payroll management, team management, online time tracking, and even invoice creation. With such a diverse gambit of features, researching the catalogue will be important in finding the right tool for your organization.

Want to know more about employee scheduling software? Check out our catalogue.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the authors

Tessa is a Content Analyst for Capterra, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.

Tessa is a Content Analyst for Capterra, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.

Caroline is a Content Analyst specializing in trends and challenges of new technologies in the professional world. Passions: Albert Camus, art, riddles.

Caroline is a Content Analyst specializing in trends and challenges of new technologies in the professional world. Passions: Albert Camus, art, riddles.