The Evolution of the Employee Scheduling Excel Spreadsheet


It wasn’t all that long ago that campus rec facilities managers embraced the use of the Excel spreadsheet to inject some element of control into the process of scheduling employees. Afterall, at the time, the Excel spreadsheet represented the best that technology had to offer to help solve the problem. Seems like a long time ago – even perhaps, a kinder and gentler time.

So while the adoption of the Excel spreadsheet was an evolution in staff scheduling, the challenges of managing a facility evolved even faster:

  • Educational institutions expanded the number and variety of recreational services, which needed to be coordinated
  • Expenditures to equip facilities grew to accommodate growth in the user population and the addition of new services
  • Operational expenses – specifically, energy costs and insurances have skyrocketed in recent years (has anyone’s insurance gone down?)
  • Accordingly, more employees are needed just as more employee regulations are instituted regarding part-time and overtime hours
  • User expectations are constantly rising, raising the bar daily for even the most well-funded and attentively staffed facility.

Technology to the Rescue (Again)

It wasn’t too long before the world of technology stepped in again to remedy many of the deficiencies in employee scheduling that exceeded the capabilities of the Excel spreadsheet.

Early employee scheduling software provided much needed relief in terms of expediting the process – which could take hours upon hours with the Excel spreadsheet to establish, and then even more time to coordinate changes.

But as recreational facilities evolved, successful employee scheduling evolved to become more than having employees show up for work on time.

It’s About People, Really

Now, employees are recognized as a key component in providing competent, pro-active and caring user service.  So, once again, the process of scheduling and managing facilities needs to evolve.

Clearly, employee accountability and tracking remains paramount.  But elevating the circumstances of the employee’s scheduling can only result in improved operations and user experience…such as:

  • Immediately communicating shift changes to employees so they can plan accordingly
  • Giving them greater flexibility to change or modify shifts, so they can integrate part-time work more easily into their own schedules
  • Automatic reminders of shift times – preferably via a mobile device (which is where they spend time, anyway)
  • Scheduled breaks
  • Accurate and timely reporting of hours so they get paid the right amount, on time.

Looking Ahead

Certainly today, Excel would not be the first choice of many rec facilities managers faced with improving shift management.  But, when evaluating employee scheduling software, an informed manager would do well to consider the employee’s perspective.

There’s no reason to overlook the untapped potential that a motivated employee can offer – even a part-time employee.


Bob Cote
 is the Founder & CEO
 of SubItUp. For more information call 617.401.8733 or email

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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