Overhead view of a desk covered with a keyword, mug of coffee, a pen, a paper calendar, and a smart tablet displaying a work schedule.

How to Schedule Employee Work Time

Employees are the lifeblood of any company. They are the people that make the day-to-day possible. As someone who manages employees, it’s important to show them respect and treat them fairly for all their hard work. One of the ways that you can do this is by creating an equitable work schedule for your team. Both managers and employees themselves are invested in the creation of employee schedules, as it influences their lives both at work and at home. This guide can help you create and organize an employee work schedule that can meet the company and the worker’s needs. 

Types of Schedules

Before you can create a schedule, you need to understand the different types and how they affect working hours. You should consider how much flexibility you want to give to employees when creating a schedule for your team. 

Schedules are differentiated both by how often they are put out — such as weekly, monthly, or yearly — or based on hours worked in a week. How often you publish a schedule will be dictated by your industry needs and your own working time. However, the number of hours you can schedule for each employee will be determined by their job title. 


Full-time employees are those that work a minimum of 30 hours a week, according to the IRS. Full-time employees can be salaried or hourly, however, most full-time employees are entitled to benefits. These benefits can vary by industry and employer, but most include health insurance, vision, dental, and retirement. As an employer, knowing which employees are full-time is also important for employer shared responsibility payments, which are only available to full-time workers. 


A part-time employee is anyone who works up to a maximum of 29 hours a week. Part-time employees are more likely to be hourly and work on a shift schedule. Part-time employees are entitled to fewer benefits, however, that doesn’t mean that benefits don’t exist for part-time employees. One of the unique rights of part-time employees is that they are entitled to overtime pay.


A fixed schedule doesn’t change or doesn’t change frequently. This type of schedule requires the least effort for management. A fixed schedule is often negotiated in a contract, and most commonly offered to salaried employees. You can imagine a fixed schedule like “office hours,” as this is a set time every week or every day when that employee is expected to be present and ready to work. 

How to Create Effective Work Schedules for Employees

The number of employees you’re scheduling for will be a huge factor in the amount of time and effort it takes to make an effective schedule. The larger your group, the harder it may be to find harmony. However, with the assistance of scheduling software and the following best practices, you can make scheduling your employees easier and more balanced. 

Set Up Reliable Modes of Communication

Communication is key when making and sticking to a schedule. It doesn’t stop when you post the schedule — you should have a place for your employees to reach you with any questions or extenuating circumstances. You can do this through personal modes of communication, such as giving out your phone number, or work-based messaging. You may even check in your scheduling or time tracking software to see if there is a built-in messenger or time-off requests.

Collaborate With Employees

Collaborating with employees on what hours they can work is crucial. Adult workers often have other commitments and may need certain times off. As a manager, it’s important to be as flexible as possible, while still filling the company’s needs. The best way to do this is to craft a schedule with your employee, instead of around them. This will not only ensure that your employee can work when you need them, but is a great trust-building exercise. When employees feel like their time is valued and their personal lives are taken into consideration, this can translate into improvement in job satisfaction and employee motivation. 

Set Up A Shift/Schedule Change Process

You should build a clear process for shift or schedule change requests as a part of your schedule making. Emergencies inevitably come up that keep people from work — whether it be personal injury or illness, transportation trouble, or any other manner of conflict, it’s virtually impossible to have 100% employee attendance for their entire working relationship. This is why it’s so important to create a clear process for what employees need to do in these events. You can check to see if your scheduling software has shift-trading built into their interface, or simply create a company policy. 

For full-time or fixed schedule employees, you should still establish expectations for what they should do if they can’t make it to work during their usual hours. This could be as simple as an email, or more complex, depending on the circumstance. 

Remember Work/Life Balance

It can be easy to forget work/life balance, especially if you’re scheduling for a large volume of people. However, it’s an important part of employee wellness. Additionally, keeping work/life balance in mind while you’re scheduling can prevent increased overtime among employees, which can be costly for the company. 

You can encourage work/life balance by setting a good example as someone in a management position by not answering non-urgent work correspondence after hours or not going into work on your days off. Investing in work/life balance can result in several benefits for your company. Not only will it improve employee wellness, which can increase productivity, but it can also increase employee loyalty and retention

Creating a work schedule, either weekly, monthly, or yearly can be made easier with the right tools. Treating your employees with respect, and learning best scheduling practices can make scheduling easier for you, and more productive for you employees.