Restaurant Staff Scheduling
Restaurant owners and managers face their most difficult challenges when dealing with their employees, scheduling workers to satisfy conflicting demands and making sure their restaurants have the right balance of staff to handle customers. The restaurants’ needs come first, and personnel managers must schedule enough workers to run businesses efficiently. Retention of staff is reliant on your employees receiving sufficient hours. On the other hand, high labor costs from overstaffing could easily eat into profits, and the practice lowers server morale because wait staff need enough tables to augment their minimal salaries with tips.
Staffing Balance: Part Art and Part Science
The demands of creating work schedules lead to many potential minefields. Experience and practice help management staff make more accurate assessments of scheduling needs. Policies must be in place and enforced so that staff members do not leave the restaurant understaffed.
It is hard to calibrate, especially without a long track record. New restaurants will discover unanticipated slow times and business spurts that are caused by festivals, concerts, plays, holidays and other community events. When building schedules, managers must cover projected sales volume with adequate staffing before considering special requests. Employees often want certain times off for personal reasons, but unless these dates were guaranteed, the needs of the restaurants come first.
- Understaffing puts stress on workers and leads to diminished levels of service, long waits for orders and cooking mistakes.
- Do not get in the habit of favoring employees when it comes to granting requests for days off as that can cause discord amongst your staff.
- Overstaffing generates unnecessary expenses and causes staff members to become lazy and lethargic.
- Managers can create schedules by hand, but point-of-sale systems and independent restaurant applications use technology to create tight schedules, match employee requests when possible and predict sales volume and staffing needs. It may also provide you the option to communicate the schedule by email.
- Some systems even interact with time-clock functions, preventing employees from clocking-in too early, accumulating overtime and clocking-out past their scheduled times.
Regardless of whether restaurants use software or personal scheduling, these considerations play an important part of scheduling strategies. Sometimes, managers might prefer to schedule reliable, popular or skilled workers even at the expense of paying overtime wages. This much less dicey than giving anyone preferential treatment with days off.
Restaurants also use split shifts during busy periods at lunch and dinner. Servers often don’t mind because they depend on table turnover for their income, but kitchen staff need to understand that split shifts are part of their expected job routines.
Cross-training workers in various restaurant jobs allows managers to schedule swing workers who can function where they are most needed. The cycle of restaurant operations changes rapidly from seating guests to other jobs such as taking orders, preparing foods, cleaning tables, washing dishes and preparing silverware, glasses and table set-ups. However, it is important to consider an employee’s ability level and efficiency when allocating responsibilities.
Advanced Requests Facilitate Strong Scheduling
Try to encourage employees to make special requests as far in advance as possible. Set up a cut off date so you are prepared when you have to staff your restaurant. You should anything short of an emergency means that staff has to show up for your shift or give notice before that cut off date. Vacation plans, special events and availability schedules for extra work help schedulers organize better schedules without needing to overwork people or pay overtime. Good schedule balance might include a mix of experienced workers and people who need help to perform their duties properly.
Regardless of schedules, illnesses and emergencies will always occur. Managers might consider an on-call arrangement with certain employees to handle emergency staffing needs. Restaurant employment services also supply temporary workers in emergency situations to help managers meet their staffing needs.
Plan for Full Service at Critical Times
Managers should never allow employees to switch shifts without approval because these alterations could have unintended consequences. Special events, holidays and peak-dining times require full staffs to serve customers efficiently. Managers can risk overscheduling at these times because they could always send people home if anticipated crowds fail to materialize or after crowds begin to subside.
Restaurants face unique challenges in the business world because managers must schedule workers to handle various shifts and levels of activity, unlike nine-to-five businesses. Bakers and prep cooks work different shifts than line cooks and servers, and bartenders might only be needed during peak times in the evening. Online programs and POS applications can help with scheduling workers in large restaurant operations. Small restaurants can rely on experience and sound knowledge of their workers’ skills and habits to create effective schedules to meet their operational needs. In the end, if you know the business trends and your staffing situation, you will be able to craft schedules that do not disrupt service and quality.