4 Best Practices for Building Your Employee Schedules

Mar 22 2017

Restaurant Management Labor Scheduling

Let’s face it, one of the biggest pains in the neck for management – no matter the size, style or location of the restaurant – is creating and maintaining employee schedules. Scheduling is normally a dreaded task on the to-do list, and whether it’s one person’s job, or a shared responsibility of the management team, it is important to utilize a consistent form of scheduling. Here are some best practices for creating your schedules that will not only save you money and time, but the dreaded stress that comes when faced with the task.

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Develop a standard scheduling style

First and foremost, choose your standard schedule style. This is what your staff will become familiar with, and it can be very difficult for employees to follow if it changes often. For smaller restaurants, you can create one core schedule. This will work just fine especially if your staffing levels are low on a day to day basis. For medium and franchise restaurants, you may want to create two schedules – one for your day shifts, and the other for your evening shifts. This way, the day gets split up for your team to build and manage, and for your employees to accurately follow.

For larger restaurants with high volume and staff, you can create sub-categories of your day schedules. You might want one for Front of house employees, for example, and another for your back of house employees. To really clean up your schedules, you can also filter down into day part and job. For example, you might make a precise AM Server Schedule alongside a PM Server Schedule. No matter the style of schedules you choose to make, it is important to keep that style consistent to eliminate any errors or oversights.

Utilize Templates

Once you have chosen your scheduling style, a great way to save time is to create schedule templates. You can do this in pretty much any context and form. Excel, paper calendars, and/or scheduling software. Templates are great, especially if you run the same daily shifts throughout the week. With these, there is no need to create an entirely new schedule every week or two. And if you have a template saved digitally, you can simply go in and assign an employee to that schedule and shift. In addition, templates will allow you to easily adjust any shifts due to Holidays, reservations etc. Good software gives you the option to flag these potential issues in advance.

Create Rules and Guidelines for Management

Everyone has different opinions when it comes to scheduling – it’ like having too many cooks in the kitchen. To combat this, you should create guidelines that all management should follow when creating the schedule or assigning shifts. For example, you can request that management always leave an open house shift on weekend evenings. Employees can choose to work this just in case it is an extra busy night. You can also set rules on experience needed for particular shifts. Stronger staff might be needed for Friday night closing, or Sunday morning openings – again, good software can help here.

You should also set a threshold on lengths of shifts that are allowed. This will save you with potential overtime pay. Lastly, identify a lead time that schedules must follow when it comes time to posting them for employees. For example, Schedules must be posted by 3pm Fridays for the following Monday. This will create a normality in what your employees will expect and see. Rules and Guidelines will save those in charge of reviewing schedules an abundance of time. Not to mention, they will eliminate potential for errors once posted.

Monitor Requests for Time off

It is important to monitor employee requests off. No matter how many employees you may have, this is one of the most hectic parts of scheduling. Employees have lives outside of work, and requests off will always be coming in. To save yourself trouble when it comes time to building your schedule, create a few rules for requests off.

You might look at rules such as lead time, for example. This can include stipulations like ‘requests must be submitted 10 days out of the shift in question’, or ‘employees cannot swap shifts with 12 hours of the start time’. You can even note blackout dates, where employees cannot request dates off. Holidays are especially troublesome when it comes time to scheduling, and by blacking out Christmas Eve or Valentine’s Day, you can control the intake of requests much more easily, and review them on an individual basis.

These Scheduling tips are not essential for your management team and restaurant. If you do not practice or use them, your scheduling will not be a failure. However, if you do, you will save time that can surely be used elsewhere in your busy company, and your employees (and your head) will appreciate the consistency. Go ahead, try them out.

Ctuit allows you to customize many of the rules mentioned for employees utilizing the Scheduling mobile app. Our system of forecasting alerts will also note present and potential future conflicts. For information on how Ctuit can help you with your Scheduling visit: http://www.ctuit.com/labor-scheduling/

Amanda Wilkening

Amanda Wilkening

Amanda has over 10 years of restaurant experience ranging from Serving, FOH Training to bookkeeping. More recently, Amanda was a member of the client services department at Ctuit where she trained new clients on RADAR and assisted restaurant management and executives in their day to day reporting and operational questions.