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Tips for Creating an Effective Employee Schedule

When you run a restaurant, having the proper amount of staff working at any given time is one of the trickiest parts of running a restaurant. yet one of the key elements of success. How can you know how many staff you will need at each shift? How can you account for staff behavior and scheduling changes? How can you make sure that you will be neither overstaffed nor understaffed? Learning how to make an effective schedule will be one of the tasks you will need to perform in order to run your restaurant smoothly.

Tips for Creating an Effective Employee ScheduleKnow Your Needs

Before you sit down to create a schedule you will need to determine the exact needs of your business.

  • How many shifts do you need?
  • How much traffic is expected at every shift?
  • How much staff is required to accommodate guests comfortably, ensuring that food is delivered promptly to the table?

Know Your Staff

You will also need to know the types of workers you will be hiring for your establishment. Typically restaurants attract part time workers more so than any other industry. To combat this, you may try to seek out older employees with long term work goals. Or you may decide on part time students and seasonal staff where you can expect a higher turnover rate. Whichever way you decide to go, there are ample opportunities to get to know your staff,  learn their scheduling needs and requirements, and build this information into an effective scheduling system that works for everyone.  

Over Staffing vs. Under staffing

Covering each shift with adequate staff is a delicate balance. You do not want to be understaffed, nor do you want to be overstaffed. If you are understaffed, there will be delays in customers receiving their orders, and workers will get overwhelmed and not feel satisfied with their performance. If you are overstaffed, you will find that your labor costs are too high and shifts are not as profitable as they could be. You will also have employees on hand with nothing to do; a reduction in tips; and overall work dissatisfaction  Discuss with staff the amount of traffic they had during their shift, examine sales records and perform other research so you can learn what the correct balance of employees to customers ratio is needed for each shift. 

Allow Staff to Work Profitable Shifts

It is important to allow staff members to alternate shifts so everyone gets a chance to work the more profitable shifts. Once you determine what those shifts are, it is imperative to work it into the scheduling.

Schedule in Vacation Days & Personal Days

Everyone needs days off. Rather than it being done spontanously, scheduling it into the calendar will save a lot of time and effort. Have employees request time off at the beginning of each month to give you ample time to create a workable schedule.

Make Shift Work Workable

Shift work can be taxing on restaurant workers. Long shifts with hard physical labor can lead to illness and burnout. On the other hand, short shifts may make working just not worth it - between commuting, babysitters, and etc. Striking a balance will benefit both you and your staff. Experts say the six to eight hour shift works best. They also advise against scheduling back-to-back shifts and also strongly advise against scheduling overtime as it becomes costly for you to pay time and a half overtime wages.

Post Schedules Early

Employees will need ample notice as to when their scheduled shifts are for the coming weeks so they can balance their personal lives with their work lives. Therefore it is important to post schedules as early as two weeks in advance so that your employees can make any changes they need to early enough. This shows your staff that you consider their needs and respect their time away from work. Encourage any changes in shifts to be done no later than one week in advance so that you and your staff know what to expect. Leaving as little room for surprises will serve all staff members well.

Be sure to post your schedule in a place that can be easily seen by your employees. It is also important to make sure that there is a hierarchy for making any schedule changes, and that this process is clear to the staff if any scheduling changes are needed. These safeguards will keep your schedule running smoothly and ensure that you always have the proper staff on hand at any given time.

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