7 Steps to Creating a Great Employee Schedule Template

The Importance of a Creating a Template

Creating an employee schedule template might seem like an easy job. In theory, you should assign an appropriate amount of people to each shift to make sure you're not understaffed or overstaffed. But in practice, it's a bit more complicated.

There are many ways you can create a schedule. Starting with shift types like rotating, fixed or on-call, and considering that there are countless ways to schedule your employees, creating a schedule can become a difficult job.

But a schedule isn't fixed, so use this template to help you create a better precise schedule.

Before Getting Started

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A great employee schedule template means you'll have to focus on what's best for both the restaurant and the staff. If you focus mainly on the restaurant, the staff will be unhappy and perform under expectations. On the other hand, if you focus solely on your staff, your business could potentially suffer. Here are the priorities to take into account when considering the importance of both your business and employees

Business Needs
Business scheduling requirements will vary depending on your type of restaurant. But they will also vary depending on which department within your restaurant you're scheduling.

  • You need to be able to better manage employee turnover rates as these are extremely high within the foodservice industry.
  • You need to always have an appropriate amount of staff working. If you are understaffed, some customers will receive slow service and if you are overstaffed, there will not be enough work for everyone.
  • Consider the right shifts appropriate for your business. Some businesses work better with fixed shifts, some work better with rotating shifts. For example, rotating shifts might be better for a restaurant as it will help distribute the workload and tips.
  • Working with online scheduling software to ease the load on the managers. This will greatly reduce the time needed to build and manage shift schedules.

Employee Needs
Your staff's needs will vary depending on their role, but also on how dynamic their life is. In general, these few rules should apply to everyone.
  • Employees want shifts that match their lifestyle. An employee with a family can't maintain constant night shifts, but it would be perfect for someone who just finished high school or college.
  • Early notices for shift changes and extra time. Everyone wants to have control over their life. Repeated last-minute shift notices will cause them to be unhappy and perform worse.
  • Knowing what is expected of them. A job role might not be enough if they sometimes have to help their co-workers with other roles. You might want to give them more details.
  • Employees want to manage their time-off requests. This can be easily accomplished with employee scheduling software.
  • Being able to switch or get extra work on short notice.

How to Create a Great Employee Schedule Template

Now that we've covered the general business and employee needs, it should be much easier to create an employee schedule template. Here are 7 simple steps to creating a great employee schedule template.

1. Determine Work Standards

This process will help clarify how much work each of your staff members is expected to complete.

  • Specify how much work an employee needs to complete within their work time or a number of hours. For example, in a restaurant you might measure how many tables are served within a shift or certain time frame.
  • Clearly determine the tasks of each job. This will make it much easier for the employee to fulfill their tasks. Tasks will vary depending on your business and an employee's job role.

2. Measure and Predict Activity Levels

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Once you've determined your work standards, it's time to analyze your current activity levels. These will be different for different days and different times of day. It might seem hard, but this is extremely important for creating an employee schedule template.

This will help you determine the right amount of people you should schedule at different days and different times of the day.

You can also analyze data from different reports related to sales and labor. Sales reports can tell you exactly how many tables you've had on which days and if you further analyze, you can pinpoint which time of the day is a busier period.

In predicting activity levels , use the current analytics to approximately predict future activity levels. If your current data says that you have more work during evening hours, that means it will probably continue to be like that.

Account for daily, monthly and even longer periods of time like quarterly or yearly.

3. Determine the Precise Number of Employees You Need

Try to avoid going by instinct here. You'll probably want to cut the work by skipping this step and going by instinct, but that could be detrimental to your business.

The general formula for this is dividing the work standard by the number of employees. If you need to server 150 tables and you know that a waiter can serve only 50 tables this means you need 3 waiters on that shift.

Even though some employees are more productive than others, you don't want to punish them by giving them a lot more work.

4. Consider Employee Needs

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This step is more focused on the employees and their needs. You need to create an optimized employee schedule template that accounts for your staff's needs.

Here are some things you need to consider

  • Give early notice of shift changes
  • Assign the right shifts to the right staff
  • Allocate an equal amount of work and tip opportunities to each employee
  • Let employees switch shifts easily
  • Let employees manage their time-off requests
  • Determine clear roles

You should also prepare for last-minute shift swaps, employees randomly not coming to work and other bad situations.

5. Choose Your Scheduling Method

When creating your employee schedule template, it's important to consider the advantages and drawbacks of the different creation methods available to you.

Pen and paper

  • The advantage of doing it this way is that there's no learning curve. You already know how to work with pen and paper. But that's where the advantages end. It's the most time-consuming method of all three.

  • Excel or Google sheets will do a much better job than pen and paper, but there's a learning curve. It still requires a major time investment but will make it easier down the road.

Employee scheduling software
  • Depending on which software you choose, there is a monetary investment, but because of that you can cut your time investment by a huge factor. The biggest advantage of software is that it's available 24/7 and employees can request days-off or shift coverage through a mobile app. They'll also get automatic notifications of any schedule changes.

6. Create the Employee Schedule Template and Obtain Approval

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You've determined your work standards, measured and predicted activity levels, determined the number of employees you need, considered staff needs, and chosen the scheduling method.

Now it's time to create your employee schedule template and get it approved by top management. In some cases, you will not need approval from anyone higher than you and in some cases, you are the highest manager.

But be sure to account for laboring regulations and business requirements. Consult with the owner or higher managers if needed.

7. Distribute the Schedule

Your employee schedule template is now created. At first, you can use the template as a precise schedule, but as time goes by and staff needs arise, you will need to make modifications in order to create a precise schedule.

If you've chosen a pen and paper as your scheduling method, notifying your staff will be hard. Your best choice is to call a meeting and have the schedule on a noticeboard or similar. Other than that, you can manually message each employee their shift hours.

If you've chosen Excel or Google sheets as your scheduling method, notifying your staff is a little easier. You can create a group chat on a messaging application and then send the file. But even with this method, if an update is made to the schedule you need to send it again.

Employee scheduling software is your best bet here, as you will not need to manually notify any employees of changes to the schedule. The software will automatically notify your employees through a mobile app. By using this they can also request days off or release their shift and have someone else take over.

The Takeaway

Creating a great employee scheduling template isn't the easiest job and you will most likely have to constantly adapt it, but it pays off in the long run. Going by intuition, either your employees or business will suffer, sometimes it can be both.

Out of all the methods for schedule creation, it's best to use software. The main advantage is that you don't have to manually notify any employees of schedule changes, they will be automatically notified.