Does restaurant employee scheduling have to be so difficult?
Twenty or thirty years ago, the answer would have been a resounding yes. In the ’80s, ‘90s, and 2000s, you had a paper schedule. Or, if you were really lucky, you had a spreadsheet emailed to you. There was no other way around it because technology hadn’t caught up yet.
These days, you have options. Software as a service revolutionized the restaurant industry, from taking orders to employee scheduling. While there have been astounding improvements, it’s still far from perfect, and that’s especially true if you pick the wrong software or you aren’t using it properly.
Restaurant staff scheduling is a lot like solving a puzzle. Get it wrong, and your staff will feel overworked, undervalued, and likely provide lackluster service. Get it right, and you’ll keep morale high, attrition low, and a dining room full of happy customers. It begs the question:
How can I get it right more often?
More importantly, how can you get it right and make employee scheduling easier?
For starters, you’re probably using outdated technology. You probably know how to make a schedule in Excel and you’re making schedules from scratch each time. It’s a safe bet to assume that all restaurant staffing schedule changes go through you. If any of that sounds familiar, then we’ve got five game-changing tips that’ll make life a bit easier.
Restaurant Employee Scheduling Tips
1. Retire Your Spreadsheets Forever
Change is hard, but so is forgoing the time and money you’ll save from automating a big chunk of your workload. Spreadsheets work well for a lot of things but not necessarily for restaurant employee scheduling. They’re far from mobile-friendly, require training to understand, and need a lot of human input, which means a greater chance for errors.
The best alternative to spreadsheets is proper restaurant employee scheduling software. One that performs calculations, has built-in automation and is easy to use. Once you make the leap, you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done without it.
2. Prioritize Communication Tools
The act of creating a work schedule is stressful and time-consuming. And that’s just getting the first version out to the world. The second that schedule hits your team, they’re going to want to make changes. Some want to take time off for vacations, others are sick, and some have a conflict and need to find a replacement.
Changes are inevitable and aren’t going away. Yet, with the right software, you can keep everyone on the same page and make changes on the fly more easily. The ability to text, email, or send push notifications when the schedule is posted or when a shift is up for grabs is a game-changer.
Don’t waste another minute calling down a list or sending out mass emails or texts to get shifts covered. Let technology do the heavy lifting.
3. Use Templates to Copy Your Schedules
Building shift schedules from scratch is far from necessary these days. In all likelihood, your schedule isn’t changing dramatically from week to week, and you can simply copy over the core components and make tweaks where necessary.
Again, with the right software, you can create a restaurant scheduling template and apply it weeks or even months in advance, so you and your team have the confidence of knowing what to expect well in advance.
On top of that, you can easily make changes on the fly by dragging shifts around on the calendar and seeing how it affects labor cost, overtime, and shift coverage. It truly doesn’t get much easier than that.
4. Enlist Allies to Build the Schedule
Building the schedule shouldn’t be a task reserved for one person. You’ll especially want help when there are large rotations or multiple restaurants in the mix.
Restaurant employee scheduling would ideally have a handful of supervisors or managers building out the schedule, responding to time-off requests, and making shift swaps.
It’s possible with a spreadsheet, but with software, you can set tiered permission structures to make sure the right people have access to help you, and so you know who made what changes should a discrepancy ever occur.
5. Empower Your Staff
People inherently want to be helpful and do the right thing. If you give your staff the tools to be successful, they’re more likely to adhere to the schedule and help you when changes occur.
For starters, provide your team with a mobile app they can use to check the schedule, communicate with the team, and request shift changes 24/7. Again, the easier, the better, so they naturally do the right thing.
Another great practice is posting the schedule weeks in advance. In fact, the bigger heads up you can give people, the better.
Life always finds a way to interfere with the schedule, and the advanced notice will provide people with more time to make plans, request adjustments, and get shifts covered. That means fewer no-shows and a better experience for your staff and your customers.
The Bottom Line
Restaurant employee scheduling involves making some hard decisions. You can’t make everyone happy, and you’ll make yourself miserable trying. Most employees will understand if you’re consistent and fair a majority of the time.
That’s why scheduling with care and structure is essential at every restaurant. Without consistency and professionalism, employee morale will suffer, and so will the client experience.
Scheduling doesn’t have to be one of the problems with your restaurant if you put the right processes in place and invest in proper restaurant employee scheduling software. With it, you’ll save time, money, and keep both your staff and patrons happy. Without it, you’re fighting against the current and setting your restaurant back. There’s really only one choice to make.
Author: Sam Molony
Sam is part of the marketing team at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling software. When Sam’s not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing sports and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.