The Complete Guide to Choosing the Perfect Work Schedule App

The Problem

Your day isn't going so well. It's almost the weekend, and your main server has left it until the last minute to request emergency leave. Everyone knows weekends are the most profitable days in the restaurant business, so you cannot afford to be short on coverage. The question is- how are you going to resolve this problem?

Shift scheduling is probably the bane of every restaurant manager's existence. It is the most important, yet one of the most stressful aspects of the job because of unpredictable factors that can arise.

While the job description might state to delicately manage staff members in a way that improves efficiency and reducing overhead cost while also boosting staff morale, the reality is far more complicated, because the job also involves varying factors such as- tracking attendance, approving/rejecting time-off requests, managing overtime, assigning the right people for specified tasks, employee training, shift replacements, last-minute emergencies, and team communication. These essential tasks require a lot of time and energy invested, with minimal margin for errors from business owner, with goals ranging from improving efficiency to reducing business costs to boosting staff morale and retention, etc.

It is well established that scheduling is one of the core aspects of workforce management. However, creating effective work schedule can be challenging, especially in creating, deploying and verifying each team member has viewed the most recent schedule. An error in this process can result in

  • less than optimal schedules
  • understaffing or overstaffing
  • shrinking margins
  • deficiency in customer service
  • difficulty in managing and tracking schedules
  • abysmal team communication
  • employees complaining about their shifts and getting confused about their schedule

It can also lead to irregular balance of shifts, delays in approving and refusing requests and double-scheduling, overtime getting out of hand, increasing absenteeism, frequent hiring of last minute workers, difficulty filling open positions, reduced operational agility and flexibility due to manual schedule adjustments, difficulty in tracking and managing schedule changes and makes swift data-driven business decisions such as labor reports very challenging to accomplish.

The Solution

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Can work scheduling become easy, simple, flexible and efficient? Yes. A work schedule application can streamline the scheduling procedures, and it is simple to use rather than a pen and paper, shift-board, or complex schedule sheets that racks the brain.

Scheduling applications are an online tool that allows businesses to effortlessly schedule employees and present that schedule to their workforce. A work schedule app makes scheduling easier and less time-consuming, so energies can be committed to other workplace tasks.

An employee work schedule app helps prevent double-scheduling employees for the same shift or mistakenly scheduling employees for tasks that are not in their job description or for work they are not qualified to do. The application also ensures that an appropriate number of employees are scheduled for each position and that schedules do not conflict with employee availability or absences.

The application also increases staff engagement, improves accountability, avoids shifts missed due to miscommunication, decrease labor costs due to augmented employee schedules, and reduces the amount of time scheduling can take to make, while boosting team morale of employees and enhances productivity. A work schedule app is flexible, easy to make changes and informs employees about updates made to the schedule.

There are a plethora of employee apps around with a list of deliverables on functionality and efficiency. This guide will help you decide which is better suited for your restaurant's business goals based on all of the features to consider. An ideal application should include the following

1. Easy On-Boarding Without Physical Training Sessions

Exploring the app should come easy without the need for physical training for business owners and their employees to take part in. The ideal work schedule app should be easy to set-up and use, explanatory, possess creative ways to keep people engaged and offer productivity-enhancing tools. The program should be convenient and easy to use for employees.

2. User-friendly and Intuitive Interface

A work schedule application should not be overly complex and should provide quick and easy access to common features or commands. It should also be well-organized and enable seamless access to locate desired tools, configurations and access to help for assistance without having to get lost, confused, or unsure of how the application is supposed to run.

The app should be reliable and make sense to the average user with minimal explanation. There should also be a bit of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide guidance, suggestions and notifications in the case of new changes or updates to the software.

A user-friendly interface also means that setting up employee schedules will only take minutes with guided aide should someone need it to add new employees, locations and/or positions to the database, for example. The interface should also support multiple ways of displaying a schedule whether it be daily, weekly and monthly or individually and departmentally.

3. Flexibility Across All Business Locations

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The ideal employee schedule app should allow you to access your work schedule anywhere. You should be able to see when employees are available, their requests for time off, shift swaps, and when a shift becomes newly available.

This will reduce issues related to delayed approval or denial of requests, shifts modifications and other forms of schedule changes, which may have previously required a physical presence to resolve in person. If your restaurant has multiple locations, the employee app should also be able to allow you create schedules from remote location seamlessly.

4. Schedule Template Replication Capabilities

An employee schedule app should offer the option to save a favored work schedule as a template, so that you can reuse that existing schedule to quickly create a new schedule suitable to your restaurant's needs.

In addition, to reduce time engagement during the initial set up, the ideal work schedule app should have an inbuilt customizable template to work as an easy starting point.

5. Replication Functionalities (Drag and Drop functionality)

The ideal employee work schedule app should allow you to easily move shifts around the schedule until a desired result is attained. The functionality should enable you to move contents on the app's database to create a new project from a template wherein all previous activities or commands will be automatically copied over to the newly created project. It should also enable easy rearrangement in order to produce a schedule for a specific week or task.

6. Versatility on Electronic Devices

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An ideal work schedule application should be able easily adaptable, as well as capable to adapting to different operating platforms such as desktops, smartphones and tablets. The content delivery should showcase a clear display with little to no difference over other platforms and should offer great user experience to both the business manager and the employee.

Consider what type of device employees use and select the app that would be easy to navigate on their mobile or desktop platforms.

7. Internal Messaging

Communication within the team should be seamless without any hassle. In the traditional setting, communicating with staff can be time-consuming and unreliable. Finding replacements, filling an open shift, communicating notices of staff meetings, and notifying each member about upcoming events or changes in protocols and policies comes with a degree of uneasiness. This leads to time wastage for managers.

The ideal employee schedule app should reinforce communication within the team. For instance, messaging features enable push notifications and various messaging categories based on an internal messaging system, which heralds a valued team communication without being glued to an office desk.

With the right app, files, photos, links, requests, approvals and internal memos can be easily created, deployed and received by the employees. Some options even offer setting up of groups, group email services, custom texting, and flexible bulk texting for better communication between managers and employees.

8. Forecasting Capability

The better you can forecast your employee schedule, the more profitable your restaurant will be. A work schedule app should help you determine how many employees you would need for all shift windows. This will assist in eradicating mishaps, like overstaffing or understaffing. In addition, forecasting features also determine the pattern of slower and busier business, based on days and time of days, all of which is powered predictive analytics.

9. Labor Budget Control

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Labor cost is the largest of the expenditure budget, and gaining control over this can be quite a difficult task. With experts suggesting 45% of gross revenue as an ideal target, the best application should help you schedule the right people at the right time, while also lowering labor costs.

With added insights into historical sales and predictable staff needs, you will have more control over labor budget when creating schedules. The data will let the platform forecast when you'll need more employees working and during specified shift times. You will also be able to indicate where you want employees to work, such as in different departments or locations.

10. Shift Modification Management

The application should allow restaurant managers to take instantaneous action when an employee accepts future shifts offered by coworkers or when they take time off or when their availability changes.

A shift request that normally takes hours to deal with should be easier to sanction or reject. Additionally, in the case of shift modification, the ideal work schedule app should make it easy to assign shifts to workers.

11. Simplified Shift Swapping

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Shift swapping is a regular occurrence between employees in the restaurant industry. When employees are not able to work a shift, this feature allows you to gain total control and offer the available shift to other staff members to make sure the shift does in fact get covered.

It should also allow management to confirm whether or not specific employees selected as a replacement can pick up an open shift. Employees should also be notified when a coworker is offering a shift to be taken.

Also, if employees are unable to work one of their shifts, they can give it to one of their co-workers or trade for an alternate shift time with one of their coworkers. This further frees up management's time.

12. Attendance Tracking

A work schedule app should offer virtual time clocks, so that management and employees can easily track their clock-in and clock-out times, as well a track how many hours are worked per week. This information also helps management complete payroll activities more efficiently.

13. Automatic Notifications Updates

This feature facilitates real-time communication amongst the employees through the delivery of internal messages. Furthermore, this tool automatically generates system alerts that are dispatched easily to employees. This tool also allows customization to better suit each employee.

In a broader scope, the ideal work schedule app ensures that internal messages are sent directly to the appropriate assigned employee's inbox system and confirms receipt once received. Rather than receiving generalized notifications, employees can opt to receive custom notifications to reflect personal preferences for each employee.

14. Cloud-Based

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This is a vital feature for a work schedule app. A cloud-based application is very easy to set up and implement into your practices. Cloud-based systems also have the ability to access a work schedule from anywhere, at any time, and from almost any device (in the absence of your primary device).

As a cloud-based scheduling system, employees can access the schedule on any internet-enabled device ensuring that they always know which shifts they have been scheduled for. Furthermore, this feature allows a far more collaborative schedule building process with your team even when they are not within the premises.

These types of systems also prove to be a valuable business investment since they are housed in the vendor's server where they are regularly updates and prevented from database infiltration. Another significant advantage of this feature is automation. This sub-feature can show you a list of available employees for a particular shift and can automatically assign them to that in the schedule.

The benefits of an employee schedule app cannot be overstated and adopting the right app will help in managing your team. Using this guide will help in selecting the best employee schedule app that will ensure you spend less time scheduling through automation, improve team communication, boost staff morale, manage time-off, better track availability and resource management effectively, avoid errors and excessive energy investment, save on costs and improve profit margins all of which will make the restaurant run more efficiently.