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Employee Scheduling Tips

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As a restaurant owner or manager, scheduling your employees can be easier said than done. It can be easy to feel pressure from employees when there is a lack of an efficient scheduling process. It can also hurt employees when they don’t get certain time off, or they don’t like working a certain shift for whatever reason. Employee scheduling is vital to the success of your restaurant. It can mean the difference in growing your business or severely hurting it. The bottom line is your restaurant can incur a heavy expense if employee scheduling is not carried out effectively.

Here are 9 tips for creating an effective employee schedule:

1. Know Your Employees
People are generally habitual creatures. So you will want to make sure you get to know everyone of your staff and their habits. You should stay organized with all of your employees’ names and whether they are part time or full time. You may also want to have a list of their job title and set of skills. You don’t want to be calling your cook if your host is out sick to fill in. Do you? The better you know your employees, the easier it will be to make changes to your schedule when things come up. We all know things come up in the restaurant industry.

2. Set the Expectations From the Beginning
During the hiring process, you should make sure your employees are fully aware of their time off and expectations when it comes to scheduling. Employees need to know how much time they can have off, procedures for sick days, and what happens if they don’t abide by scheduling rules. If employees are not aware, you can have employees missing shifts and causing complete disarray within your restaurant.

3. Stay Consistent
Effective communication is key to staying consistent when it comes to your restaurant employees. You don’t have to be strict when it comes to setting your expectations. If you stay consistent, you shouldn’t have a problem when it comes to push back from your employees. You should stay consistent throughout the entire scheduling process from start to end each week. That means posting the schedule at the same time and day every week, and taking time off requests with a certain deadline each week. Sending a time off request an hour before the schedule is posted is unacceptable. Setting up a consistent schedule will not only make things easier for you, but also keep your employees in line.

4. Forecast
You should always be forecasting your staff’s schedule, and planning for the worst staff situation. Say someone gets sick unexpectedly, or an unforeseen lunch rush happens. Is there a holiday coming up? Is it the start of summer? These types of questions will influence whether people will take time off or not. It’s impossible to forecast every little thing that could come up within a restaurant, but keeping good records from sales to operations can help you prepare for the future.

5. Make the Schedule Easily Accessible
You don’t want your employees missing work because they forgot do you? Have a schedule that is easily accessible so your staff can see it anytime. Just having paper copies is also not a good idea. It’s very easy for staff members to loose paper copies of schedules. You should consider sending out your schedule through email on a regular basis

6. Schedule the Right People
It’s not just about finding the sweet spot between being under or overstaffed. You want to have the right people with the certain set of skills for each shift. You will want to keep business needs and employee strengths in mind. The most basic principle to keep in mind is that you always want to schedule your best employees during the busiest times. During the slower times, you will want to still have experienced workers, but it might be a good opportunity to get your newer or less experienced workers to improve on their positions. Employee’s strengths and weaknesses will change, and so will high-dollar shifts. You don’t want to restrict employees from working different shifts, but instead putting strengths where you need them the most.

7. Discover a Balance
You’re never going to know 100% when you’re busy and when you’re not. There are always unexpected events that come up within the restaurant industry. The trick is to find a balance between over and under staffing. It’s one of the hardest parts about running a successful restaurant. If you don’t have enough people on staff, your employees will eventually get burnt out and look for a position elsewhere. If you are constantly sending employees home because you don’t have enough work for them, you will also have the potential of employee turnover.

8. Use Technology
Make things easier on yourself and consider using a scheduling software. Technology has come a long way from using just a pen-and-paper, and has saved many people countless hours and headaches. There are both free and paid software available to the public. There is even software that will alert of conflicts and suggest changes to improve your process.

9. Ensure All Schedule Changes Go Through You
Schedules changes happen. Things come up, and as the manager or owner of the restaurant, you don’t want to be the last person to know about it. You can encourage your employees to find their own replacements, but you will want to make sure all final decisions go through you. It’s important to make sure employees are switching shifts with other employees who have the same skill set. By having the final decision, you can control how many times people are switching, and you’re not accruing overtime for certain employees.

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