Spending an exorbitant amount of time dedicated to employee scheduling is an ongoing concern in the Restaurant Chains industry. Trying to find a balance between availability and accountability is not only exhausting – but often at times – a herculean task. The good news is: it doesn’t have to be!
1. Failure to Plan Effectively and Strategically
There may be times where everything goes according to plan, and the schedule that was created for the week – or even month – pans out perfectly. But, what about the busier times of the year?
During certain seasons, like summertime, for instance, an influx in time-off requests will arise, and keeping track of who submitted PTO first becomes a challenge, especially for a staff roster higher in numbers.
Manually logging employee time-off requests in a notebook or in a spreadsheet may appear logical, but when it comes to practicality and organization, the process proves to be more of a burden with damaging consequences.
2. Poor Employee Communication
Once a schedule goes live, how do you confirm that every employee on your roster has, in fact, viewed that schedule?
Printing out a hardcopy and posting it in the break room or back-of-house sounds sufficient enough, but what guarantee do you have to prove that that schedule did not go unseen?
Then, there is a matter to consider when last-minute changes must be made. Redistributing the new schedule is not only another vexing task, but the process can grow confusing in an attempt to accurately track which version went to which employee.
There’s also the option to send the schedule via email, but the issues surrounding confirmed redistribution is still present.
3. Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software Falling Short
Tools like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are great in theory, but these types of platforms fall short when considering the unique and minute details that come with scheduling in the food industry.
Such applications and software lack in preventing scheduling conflicts, like overlapping shifts, over- and under-scheduling, and overtime – amongst many other costly issues. This is largely due to the fact that these platforms were not designed with scheduling in mind.
In order to effectively combat the top trouble-areas that are hurting El Pollo Loco Inc. the most, many companies – similar to your industry – have turned to Zip Schedules for employee scheduling and schedule monitoring solutions.
The areas that will see vast improvements are:
With Zip Schedules, schedules can be adjusted and published in real-time from a desktop, laptop, or smartphone. The live schedules can then be sent to each staff member, which will be received on their mobile device and in their online profile. Reports and data tracking are also logged, so management can confront and address any concerns in attendance patterns.
Streamlining and Accuracy
With the built-in labor forecasting tool, over-scheduling and under-scheduling no longer become an issue, as the scheduler will notify if too many shifts are being assigned during certain windows, and conversely if there is not enough coverage during busier times.
Through accurate data analytics, Zip Schedules’ software tracks trends in projected sales and syncs that daily forecast with projected staff needs. With access to such insight, you are in control of meeting budget goals, as well as cutting down on wage overspend.
With the Zip Schedules’ mobile app, employees can access their schedules anywhere and anytime. The app also offers features that allow employees to request time off, update availability, swap shifts with coworkers, and even communicate with management through the internal messaging system.
In order to make the most out of scheduling solutions, such practices are highly recommended and fully compatible with Zip Schedules.
1. Distribute the Schedule ASAP
In order to get all outside affairs in order, and with some states even enforcing a mandatory assigned schedule distribution time, it is immensely important to provide employees with upcoming schedules in advance (at least 2 weeks).
Providing leeway allows your employees to:
- Account for possible shift conflicts and swap shifts with a coworker ahead of time, instead of waiting till the last minute
- Reschedule commitments outside of work to avoid interfering with the upcoming work schedule
- Take the initiative in finding a replacement, garnering accountability and building responsibility in each individual
- Absorb the amount of time and effort it would take management to cover the now available shift
In terms of releasing the schedule and making it accessible immediately, utilizing cloud-based programs, like Zip Schedules is reliable and convenient. Through the cloud, the schedule is viewable 24-7, even after revisions have been applied. Once a change has been made in the schedule, the update is posted in real-time and a notification is sent to the team, preventing confusion and dismay.
2. Maintain Employee Communication
Yes, this may sound like a task easier said than done, but with the proper tools, the feat is entirely achievable.
Zip Schedules’ in-app messaging system allows employees and management to communicate directly with one another. This solution provides convenience and prevents messages from getting lost in translation between multiple platforms, like switching from text to email to instant messaging.
The employee communication feature is fully secured, so if an employee would like to address an HR or scheduling concern he/she is experiencing at work, that can be done privately with management through the app.
3. Honor Time-Off Requests when Possible
An important component to retaining good workers (who are also reliable when it comes to showing up for shifts) is assisting in a healthy work-life balance. This is often exemplified by honoring availability and time-off requests.
During the holidays and warmer season’s months, it’s not unusual to see a surge in employee PTO requests, especially for a brand like El Pollo Loco Inc. with a number of employees to manage.
Of course, not all requests can be accommodated, but it does not hurt to try, and the effort will not go unnoticed by your team.
A good place to start is by streamlining the process. First, define the rules. Confirm:
- How requests should be submitted - in the scheduling app, like Zip Schedules, or on a hard copy form
- If certain days are blocked out
- The maximum amount of days that may be consecutively missed
- How far in advance requests must be made
After establishing the set rules, cover grey areas such as overlapping requests. Clarify that final decisions can be made based on various factors, like seniority or first-come, first-serve.
Defining the rules from the start, keeping the process transparent, and applying technology to your advantage, seamlessly governs time-off requests while also fairly honoring all team members’ needs.
4. Prepare for Plan B
As the age-old saying goes: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
Stressing the importance of always having a backup cannot be pressed enough, as even the most well-thought-out schedules can often fall apart due to circumstances beyond our control.
To account for emergencies, illness, or simple tardiness, it’s suggested to maintain a full employee roster with their most up-to-date availability and best contact number. There are a couple of avenues to take in retaining this. One, you can continuously manage it and manually input new information as it comes to you in a spreadsheet. Or, two, you can utilize scheduling applications to retain all necessary information for you.
Because the app is available to all active employees, management can instruct team members to confirm working availability at the beginning of each month and update accordingly if need be. In doing so, you can easily locate the next potentially available employee and quickly contact him/her.
Software dedicated to employee scheduling is especially great, because the most advanced systems, like Zip Schedules, can be integrated with existing software, such as time clocks. This is significantly vital because if an employee fails to show up for a shift and does not update management, the software will instantly send a notification to management so the matter gets addressed immediately.
5. Use Software that is Industry-Specific
Restaurant Chains-specific solutions, especially for hourly workers, pay dividends in the long-run.
Through dedicated software, scheduling can be automated and templated, saving management precious working hours that can be spent elsewhere in better marketing the brand and providing exceptional customer service.
Zip Schedules will not only make schedule creation simpler, but it will decrease labor costs, reduce overtime work – which can lead to labor lawsuits, and increase the bottom line for El Pollo Loco Inc..