How to Manage Restaurant Employee Schedules
The restaurant industry is revered for its creative nature, community culture, and celebrity chefs. While every one of us surely has our favorite dining spot, what we often don’t see is the hard work it takes to keep restaurant operations running smoothly.
In an industry notorious for facing high employee turnover, unpredictable late night shifts, and unfilled positions, scheduling employees is one of the biggest challenges for restaurant managers and owners all over the world.
Fortunately, there are many ways to empower your restaurant employees to show up on time and help you keep your positions filled and your customers served efficiently and painlessly.
Learn Your Employees’ Personal Schedules
The restaurant isn’t just about food, drinks, and parties, it’s about serving people. And as important as customer service is to your management team, treating your staff well is just as important as making sure your regulars have their favorite seats available for happy hour.
Learning your employee’s personal schedules goes a long way for both you and your staff. While they work long hours to serve your clientele and earn great tips, your employees have personal lives to live outside of the bar, just like you.
Take the time to learn which of your employees have children, who works a day job, and how far they commute to clock in on time.
Asking a few simple questions to understand more about their lives will show them that you care about them, and they will work harder for you.
Find The Right Balance
Some staff need more flexibility than others. Other staff need a more strict schedule and instructions. You will get a feel for each of your employees to know who needs more oversight and who can handle everything on their own.
Finding the right balance between “be here on time or you’re fired,” and offering an option to trade shifts or prepare for a shift the night before, can go a long way for your staff.
Regardless of their position or seniority, finding the right balance between benevolent leader and Game-of-Thrones villain with your staff will make things go smoothly for you.
Create A Process
The best companies in the world thrive when company management documents their proven processes for success. Whether big or small, your restaurant will benefit from doing the same with your staff.
By documenting your process for scheduling shifts (i.e. 1 week ahead, 2 weeks ahead), along with your acceptable policies for trading shifts, call-outs, and disciplinary actions, you and your staff will be on the same page.
All people appreciate communication, and as a manager, the stoic and quiet one often loses the game of communication with employees.
By speaking more openly, setting clear boundaries between negligence and appropriate behavior, asking for explanations when employees bend the rules, and ensuring that all staff agree to your process from the first day of employment, your staff and customers will benefit.
Documenting your schedules is the key to getting started.
If you choose an offline scheduling solution, agree to provide your staff with a large, clearly written, and updated whiteboard or printed schedules in the staff room or common area.
This way, they see the schedule throughout the week, and can predict their shifts ahead of time, to plan their lives around your need for their attendance.
Consider allowing your staff to pick up extra shifts, or trade with certain comparable staff. Many of them will enjoy the extra money, even if they have to run everything by you first.
One recommendation is to verbally confirm with all of your staff that they have seen the schedule, and even have them sign off on it 1-2 weeks in advance of the upcoming week.
This way, everybody knows when they need in and when they have the day off, without any confusion.
In today’s data-driven world, online scheduling solutions are becoming a much more efficient way to schedule your restaurant staff.
Consider collecting your staff email addresses, or using a group Google calendar or software solution to manage their schedules.
Any updates you make are automatically updated on their mobile devices in multiple applications (email, text or a scheduling app).
Just beware that not every employee will be so tech savvy. Since they don’t sit at computers all day like a typical office staff would many employees may still prefer the manual paper or phone call scheduling.
This will all come out during your initial communication on your staff’s preferred communication and scheduling styles
Communication Is Key
At the end of the day, if you know that your staff trust you to treat them well, you communicate with them, and you all have the mutual respect that you are hard-working people trying to make it in life, you will all win in the end.
Get to know your staff, communicate your vision, and treat them just as well as you treat your customers, and you will soon have the busiest restaurant on the block.
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