While Excel is a very good tool for certain purposes, it is not designed for employee scheduling despite the fact that many still use it. To be honest, it’s an old-fashioned, inefficient and time-consuming tool to use for your employee scheduling – and in the end, you might as well be using pen and paper.

Excel is useful when making budget overviews or statistics as only one user at a time can handle data entries. However, employee scheduling in a modern, successful business demands more flexibility than a one-way communication tool only accessible from one platform at a time can offer. It requires constant changes several times a day, which can only be handled manually in Excel resulting in numerous phone calls to cover shifts and hours spent on punching data into your roster to keep it up to date. 

Consider this – one hour a day spent on manually updating your employee schedule equates to seven hours each week! This is time you could have spent on making your business better than your competitiors’.

In the following, we will give you 9 good reasons why Excel will never make your scheduling process successful, and we will of course let you know what we recommend you do instead:

It can’t handle shift changes

Every time your employees need to make changes to the work schedule, they will have to call to inform you about it. Then, you have to manually make the changes in the Excel template which is a time-consuming task, and it leaves room for mistakes.

It can’t communicate shift changes

Shift swaps, illness, holiday leave, late arrival, no show… There are many reasons for sudden changes to the original schedule and whatever your solution, you need to tell the rest of your staff about the rearrangements, as they will have no other way of knowing. That means a lot of time spent on phone calls, emails, texts and passing on information from one person to another.

It can’t show employee availability

Every time you have to create your schedule, you have to check with everyone that they are in fact available. Here, you have to consider holiday leave, school, exams, requested time off etc. As an Excel schedule can’t include employee information like availability you will have to store such information elsewhere. If you don’t check with your employees before you schedule them, you can end up having to handle shift changes during the week which is both stressful, frustrating and time-consuming.

It can’t handle requests for time off

You have to consider your employees requests for time off in connection with holidays, school work, exams, family events, public holidays etc. when making your employee work schedule. Your employees can write it down on a piece of paper, leave a post-it or send an email – no matter what, you will have to use another document to keep an overview of employees not available and remember not to schedule them on those specific dates.

Its templates are useless

You can easily make a scheduling template in Excel and copy/paste it to eternity. But imagine how many columns you will be storing after a year… Excel can’t roll out an optimized template with updated employee information, work and opening hours etc. again and again. That means that even though you can copy/paste your template, you still have to adjust the data going into the schedule. And how useful is that when you reach row no. 600,000?

You can’t share your schedule

You need to inform your employees about their work schedule and with Excel you have a few very inefficient ways of sharing that information; you can send it to them in an email, you can print it out and hand it to them in person, or you can make a copy and hang it up on your bulletin board. Either way, you can’t be sure that your employees have received and seen the schedule. Also, if you have any changes to make, you have to resend an email or print out several copies again.

It can’t register hours

If you want to register hours in an Excel sheet, you will have to do it manually. But you won’t be able to check whether or not your employees’ registered hours correspond to the actual working hours. And that will affect your wage spending, as there is a big risk of you paying for more than you get leaving a big gap in your budget.

It can’t calculate correct pay

You will have to manually calculate every single employee’s pay per month on the basis of the hours they have written down including flextime, overtime or supplements, and deduct any charges such as lunch breaks. This is an area in which there is a great risk of making a mistake – and that will cost you in the end!

Changes can only be made from one platform

While you can access the schedule from different user platforms, changes to the schedule can only be made from one. Consequently, your job will be to manually register adjustments on an ongoing basis, which is extremely time-consuming, as you subsequently will have to re-send or re-print the updated roster to share the information.

Here’s what will make employee scheduling a success

As you can see, Excel is not the solution to your scheduling hassles. Instead, we recommend using an online employee scheduling system.

With an online employee scheduling tool, you can share the responsibility with your employees as they can access the schedule from different online platforms at the same time and make changes to it themselves. The system not only functions as a scheduling tool but also as a communication platform which means that you can stay in contact at all times. This way, scheduling will be made collaborative, simple and flexible.

There are only a few very good online employee scheduling solutions which will take your needs in regard to scheduling, time registration, payroll and communication into consideration. It’s therefore important that you research thoroughly before purchasing. Look through our free checklist “The Ultimate Checklist for Choosing the Right Employee Scheduling System” which will give you all the information you need about online employee scheduling systems.



Christian Jørgensen
Christian Jørgensen