Staff Scheduling | 5 mins read

Tips on Proper Restaurant Staff Scheduling

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Restaurant Staff Scheduling Tips

Employee scheduling is one of the most critical responsibilities of restaurant management. Because restaurants are open beyond regular operating hours, team members work rotating shifts, swing shifts, or part-time. It's challenging to schedule the right employees for the right shifts to align with employee availability and customer demand. However, effective staff scheduling is crucial to maintain employee morale, increase sales, and reduce labor expenses.

Traditional scheduling is time-consuming and meticulous. It can take up to 2 hours or more to create an employee schedule with pen and paper. Furthermore, it's easy for time-off requests and shift swap requests to get lost among other paperwork. With the correct scheduling software and time tracking processes, business owners will eliminate errors and optimize workforce management.

Read ahead for other best shift scheduling practices.

1. Set up a Routine for Restaurant Staff Scheduling

Consistency is critical when it is time for work scheduling. Managers should make sure to post employee schedules on the same day and time each week. For example, if a supervisor chooses to post new work schedules on Friday by 4 p.m., they should continue to post it at that time each week.

After management has picked a day to post the new schedule template, they can create scheduling deadlines for the rest of the team. For the latter example, the manager may allow team members to input time requests up until Wednesday afternoon. If managers utilize a consistent scheduling process, it will waste much less time and create fewer bottlenecks.

  • There are roughly 15.1 million restaurant employees in the United States
  • The restaurant workforce makes up 10% of the U.S. workforce
  • Restaurant employees rate their workplace happiness as 8 out of 10
  • 67% of restaurant employees say they want recognition from management in the form of a paid bonus
  • The number one reason why restaurant employees quit is due to a lack of recognition for hard work

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

2. Focud on Employee Needs and Strengths to Optimize Staff Scheduling

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Management will always benefit if they factor in availability time and performance before auto scheduling. Good shift planning practices require management to assign high performers to the busiest shifts. These individuals will not be overwhelmed or need more assistance during high customer demand.

To schedule team members properly, management should also consider employee strengths and weaknesses. What are their personality types? Which customers do they interact well with? For example, an older employee may not be suited to work a late-night shift when tipsy college students tend to come in. While it's not good to pigeonhole employees to specific shifts, it is beneficial to optimize shift management and consider employee preferences.

3. Allocate Shifts Equally to Improve Restaurant Staff Scheduling

It isn't fair to schedule employees for the same shifts each week. Every worker needs to pay his/her bills, and a fixed schedule of only mid-afternoon shifts won't cut it. Good shift allocation improves employee engagement and provides an opportunity for everyone to learn more about different shifts.

While it may be tempting to schedule new hires during slow times, the only way they will learn is by facing the music. To improve team communication and productivity, managers need to switch up the shift schedule. This will improve the entire workforce and optimize future scheduling needs. Management won't need to rely on a few high-performers to cover peak hours; they can schedule anyone.

  • Fixed Shift - Shift that doesn't change from week to week. A fixed shift can either be part-time or full-time work
  • Part-Time and Full-Time - Part-time is anything less than 40 hours per week. Full time is 40 hours or more per week.
  • Rotating Shift - Few sets of shifts that employees rotate through every week, two weeks, or month. These can either be day shifts, afternoon shifts, or evening shifts.
  • Split Shift - Employee works for a few hours, takes a break, and then clocks back in later that day. Shift is split into two or more parts
  • Swing Shift - Employee works different intervals throughout the day

4. Assign High-Priority Shifts First to Optimize Staff Scheduling

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When most restaurant owners create a scheduling template or implement schedule changes, they start at the beginning of the week and move forward. This isn't a bad way to manage schedules, but it is hard to ensure high-performing workers will always be available when required.

It's better to schedule the high-priority days/shifts first. Some managers create a star-based scheduling system in which 1 star represents the slowest day/time, and 5 stars represent busiest. This can help to streamline the process and reduce any errors. This method will also control labor costs and ensure customers receive the highest quality of service.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

5. Don't Assign Back-to-Back Shift During Staff Scheduling

No employee wants to work a late-night shift and then come in early the next morning. This is a surefire way to decrease morale, cause absenteeism to surge, and increase turnover. It also hurts employee performance because they are tired from the night before.

When supervisors avoid back-to-back shift scheduling, it holds everyone accountable. There is a different employee to close and open the restaurant. If team members know they'll be the ones to open in the morning, they'll be more likely to let certain tasks slide the night before.

6. Utilize Restaurant Staff Scheduling Software

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Cloud-based scheduling apps can reduce errors, help maintain compliance, and streamline payroll processes. With the right staff scheduling software, managers can monitor time attendance, track performance, monitor employee time, and analyze absenteeism data.

A mobile app or software solution will enable users to customize schedule templates and use drag-drop features, which minimizes employee scheduling time. One of the top benefits of tracking software is that it gives management more time to work on more important tasks.

All real-time labor-related data is in one place, and reporting features enable owners to drill down into labor costs and minimize waste. Many staff scheduling software systems integrate with time clock software to help improve payroll accuracy. While an employee scheduling app can be expensive, the many benefits usually outweigh the initial cost.

Key Takeaways of Restaurant Staff Scheduling

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In conclusion, here are best practices for scheduling employee teams -

  • Managers should set a specific routine to streamline scheduling processes, improve employee time tracking, and minimize errors. This will improve morale and ensure everyone is accountable for their assigned hours.
  • Managers should remember business needs and employee strengths when creating schedules. This will ensure the high-performing team members are on hand when customer demand is high. It will also allocate the proper number of hours to everyone, which improves the company culture.
  • Managers should allow everyone to earn as much money as possible. This will improve morale and also provide new hires with more experience. They should also schedule high-priority shifts first to ensure they are covered.
  • Managers should avoid scheduling employees back-to-back. This will improve morale and ensure all required tasks are completed the night before. Furthermore, owners should invest in an easy use online employee scheduling tool or mobile apps to manage schedules and track time. This will save money, help maintain compliance, optimize task management, and reduce labor costs.

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