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7 Consequences of Using Excel to Schedule Employees



Employee scheduling is a common bottleneck when it comes to managing hourly employees. Without the schedule, nothing can move forward, and because it involves every employee, any failure of communication sets back the entire process.

More often than not, managers and owners spend twice the amount of time they intend when drafting a fresh schedule. That's not to mention the hours spent managing shift trades and time off requests. 

We’ll try not to chide you for it, but businesses still using Excel to schedule employees are seriously behind the competition. While scheduling may seem like a small part of running your business, it’s a repeating task, so even small amounts of reclaimed time will show dividends in the long run.

With that in mind, here are a few ways spreadsheets can fail you.


Employee Scheduling is unanimously the most tedious part of managing hourly workers.



It Takes Forever

There’s a reason employee scheduling software has taken off the last few years. Owners and managers are spending too long fiddling with a spreadsheet when there's dozens of drag-and-drop options available. Simply changing from Excel to a friendlier, more intuitive interface can save you hours, especially when it comes to copying schedules from previous weeks.


Changes Are Painful (and Perpetual)

Excel spreadsheets can be sent to everyone on your team, but every manager knows posting the schedule means a Pandora’s box of requests for change. Unless you allow all your employees editing access to your main scheduling spreadsheet (not recommended), you’ll be fielding phone calls, texts, and emails for days after the schedule goes live.

Instead of manually making each change, give your employees the technology to handle it themselves. They're happy to do it, and your only responsibility becomes tapping "APPROVE."


You Gain No Business Insights

Even if you’re an Excel wizard, it can be difficult to extrapolate data from a beige spreadsheet. Depending on your chosen platform, you can automatically gather statistics like labor cost, net income, and can even forecast employee coverage. Access to insights like these can change your entire operation, allowing you to see a much larger picture than before—and run a better business.



Not Mobile Friendly

While Windows offers a mobile version of Excel, using it to schedule employees isn't the way to make things easier on yourself. Functionality is limited, the app doesn't support most offline features, and—the nail in the coffin—the spreadsheet simple isn't friendly to a small screen.

Using a dedicated app to manage shift trades and requests off will make things much easier.


Not Equipped For Communication

Most of the work that goes into creating a schedule is the communication between employees and yourself. Even if you have a small staff, every discussion shouldn’t necessarily route through you. If you're fielding a rotating door of requests and swaps and excuses, it can be hard to accomplish your more vital managerial tasks.

Equipping your employees with the tools to communicate (both in-store, and out) will keep you from getting roped into every exchange.


Susceptible to Human Error

"Oops" is the last word you want to hear from your hair dresser—and your scheduling manager. An accidentally-erased spreadsheet will convince you in a hurry that Excel is not the way to manage such a crucial part of your business operations. One wrong click and you're out hours, possibly days of work.

Because Excel was designed as a generic spreadsheet tool and not specifically for handling employee scheduling, there's no safety nets built into the interface. You run a calculated risk each time you create a new schedule with Excel—no pun intended.



Business is competitive by its nature, but certain industries—like food and hospitality—are sink or swim. What do you think your competitors are doing while you're hacking it out in a spreadsheet? Better yet, what is your manager not doing if she's spending three hours doing the same?

Entrepreneurs know better than anyone to weigh cost and value of a tool. In the case of Excel, it's simply not suited to employee scheduling, and an investment into a comprehensive tool will quickly pay for itself in both time and gained efficiency.


Interested in such a tool? Get a demo below and we'll show you everything Jolt can do.

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About Author

Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert

A Tennessee native, Adam Lambert is a creative writer based in Salt Lake City.

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