3 Tips for Effectively Managing Employee Scheduling

Employee scheduling is all about striking the perfect balance between your restaurant’s staffing needs and employee availability. By aligning the two, you have the opportunity to save big on labor costs that often account for more than a quarter of your restaurant’s budget. Here are a few ways to get started.

Keep track of service trends

Before putting together your schedule, consider taking some time to determine when your restaurant is busiest. By tracking your restaurant’s average sales and transactions for every day of the week – and at different times of the day – you will have a much better sense of how many employees you should schedule for each particular day – saving you both time and money.  

Also consider keeping an eye out for any upcoming festivals, concerts or other major events near your restaurant. While you may not need a fully-staffed kitchen during a typical Tuesday dinner service, sports fans eager to fuel up before the big game could fill your restaurant in no time.

When tracking service trends, the weather can also play a role in your restaurant’s employee scheduling. A heavy snowstorm, for example, may require you to schedule more delivery drivers and less wait staff, for diners who don’t want to venture out into wintry conditions. Consider scheduling on-call workers in case some impacted by the weather can’t make it in.

Establish effective communication channels

From handwritten notes to email, there is no shortage of ways workers can relay shift preferences to managers. According to a recent survey, nearly 85 percent of employers have processes in place for staff to share their availability before finalizing a schedule. Still though, 65 percent of workers would try harder to find shift replacements if they had an easier way to communicate with coworkers while 53 percent would be more likely to pick up open shifts.

By implementing scheduling software that employees can access anonymously from a desktop or mobile device, you may be able to encourage greater collaboration between them – resulting in more complete and accurate schedules, and happier employees.

Post schedules in advance

A survey of 300 hourly workers revealed that about half of them receive their work schedule a week or less in advance. These findings are especially relevant to the restaurant industry, which features a workforce primarily made up of hourly workers. In fact, 86 percent of employees in the restaurant sector are hourly.

California Assemblyman David Chu is one of many politicians who are working to pass legislation that will make it easier for hourly workers to balance jobs, family responsibilities and finances. Chu’s Fair Scheduling Act of 2015 seeks to provide retail and foodservice employees with their work schedule at least two weeks in advance.

You may want to consider being proactive and doing this at your restaurant. By giving your front- and back-of-house staff advanced notice of their schedule, you not only have the chance to avoid frequent shift conflicts, but you can also buy yourself more time to work around scheduling changes that do occur. Perhaps most importantly, employees may be less inclined to leave because of obligations outside of work, thereby eliminating high turnover costs.

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