employee schedule | 10 mins read

Control Alt Shift- How to Create the Perfect Employee Schedule for a Restaurant

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Archita Wagle

By Archita Wagle

What is an Employee Schedule?

An employee schedule or a work schedule is a time-table that organizes and manages the staff of a business. But it's not as simple as filling in slots on a spreadhsheet. There are several factors that go in scheduling.

In order for a restaurant to run smoothly, it needs to employ an adequate number of people for each shift, such that it isn't under- or overstaffed. It has to make sure the staff is not overworked and is given the breaks it needs. It has to be mindful of leave and shift swap requests. Local labor law compliance is important, as is adherence to the terms of every employee's contract, like specified days and hours they have been contracted to work. Clearly, creating an employee schedule is a lot of hard work.

Types of employee schedules a restaurant can adopt-

1. Fixed schedule-
This schedule assigns staff fixed work hours. It's a predictable and stable weekly schedule, but it can lead to days when the restaurant is over- or understaffed.

2. Rotating work schedule- The staff rotates between morning, afternoon and evening shifts. This shift schedule is great for restaurants that are open all day. But it can be hard on workers who have to switch between different shifts and would rather not.

3. On call shift-
The staff is kept on call to cover shifts when the need arises. This kind of shift work is ideal for slow periods and it can help save labor costs.

4. Split shift-
With this employee work schedule, the staff works two different shifts on the same day, with a proper break as per the law.

5. No schedule-
There is no advanced work schedule here. Employee shifts are designed according to demand on a weekly basis. It's the most flexible work schedule, but there may be times the restaurant manager can't find the staff it needs for a particular shift.

Why is it Important to Create an Employee Schedule?

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Creating work schedules for a restaurant is something of a juggling act. A manager has to identify the workforce needed for a particular shift, take into account employee requests and time off, and ensure that the scheduled work shift is adequately staffed. A manager has to also make sure it adheres to state and federal labor laws. Most importantly, it has to control labor costs while scheduling employees.

Benefits of creating an employee schedule-
Efficient operations
A restaurant can save a great deal of time if it can schedule employees efficiently. A well organized employee schedule with defined responsibilities helps employees focus on their tasks and ensures maximum productivity.

Better workforce management
When work schedules are properly managed, employees will face fewer problems with work hours and will do their job efficiently. An efficient employee schedule also makes it easier to track employee attendance and work hours via a time clock, thus streamlining the payroll process. Allocating leave is also a lot easier with an efficient employee schedule.

Managing costs
An efficient work schedule helps a restaurant avoid over- or understaffing. Overstaffing can lead to increased labor costs, while understaffing may lead to overworked employees, customer dissatisfaction and overtime pay. Proper time scheduling will therefore benefit the company's bottom line.

Compliance with labor laws
An efficient work schedule ensures that all employeeswhether full-time or part timework for the number of hours stipulated in their contract. Good employee scheduling will make sure a business works within boundaries of the law.

Customer satisfaction
Employee schedules can help improve customer satisfaction. When the best employees are scheduled for the busiest shift, the shift is handled smoothly and customers are satisfied with the service.

  • 87% of hourly wage workers polled say they want more control over their work schedule.
  • 55% say they'll quit if they don't have it.
  • Employee turnover is 174% higher in a company that doesn't have effective time scheduling.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

7 Mistakes Managers Make When Drawing up an Employee Schedule

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Haphazard or badly curated work schedules create problems for a restaurant. Here are seven common mistakes managers make while scheduling employees' shifts-

Manual work schedule and tracking
Using manual methods to create employee schedules, like pen and paper charts or Excel employee schedule templates, make it difficult to keep track of changes in shift scheduling. It is difficult to track employee shift swaps this way. The easier way is to use scheduling software.

Improper scheduling
While scheduling employees, it's important to remember who's on leave and who has requested time off. There may be students who can't work morning shifts, or staff with family responsibilities who may not be able to work evening shifts. A restaurant manager needs to take into account these variances while drawing up a weekly schedule. It's vital to also make sure there's not too much overtime scheduled for an employee. Miscalculations can lead to higher labor costs.


Unequal shift scheduling
A proper work schedule should have a mix of experienced and fresh hands. You can't have a busy Friday night shift staffed largely with inexperienced workers, or have two top chefs on the same shift. Taking into account staff seniority and experience will help build schedules that work for everyone. A restaurant has to keep track of every employee's work hours and not schedule anyone for more than the contracted hours, so as not to violate state and federal laws. Employee scheduling software has features built into their work schedule template that take all these factors into account.

Last minute staff scheduling
Sending work schedules at the last minute is not good practice. It doesn't allow for staff changes, nor does it take into account an employee's inability to cover a particular shift. Sending work schedules two weeks in advance is the best practice. An employee can claim to not have received their weekly schedule if it wasn't sent out in advance.

Ignoring historical data
While creating a work schedule, a manager has to keep in mind the particular demands of a shift. Every shift doesn't have the same staff requirements. Sales reports will attest to this. Ignoring the data when making staffing decisions will result in over- or understaffing.


Focus on short-term planning
While a manager may create a fixed schedule for a day or a week, they should also plan a tentative schedule at least a month. They must factor in overtime, leftover leave time and all-round employee satisfaction when assigning shifts. Vacant shifts or spots should be filled immediately. Leaving it till the last minute to be filled will disrupt work schedules.

Inability to deal with unexpected changes
As a manager, you may have planned your work schedule for the entire month. But you also have to plan for last minute emergencies. An employee may fall ill, or the restaurant may receive a large order which requires more staff. If you leave no room for emergencies, your employee schedule may not hold up to unforeseen disruptions.

7 Scheduling Tips That Will Keep Your Employees Happy

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Happy employees contribute to the smooth and efficient functioning of a restaurant. Here are a couple of employee scheduling tips that promise to keep your employees happy. . .

1. Balanced staff scheduling
A restaurant does not have the same customer turnout for every shift. It is therefore important to mix up the staff, with senior, experienced hands and new workers at lean times. At the same time, cross-train employees, so they can step in to execute other functions, should the need arise.

2. Review staff performance before scheduling employees
Review employee performance and discuss opportunities to improve their skills. A manager can also discuss shift scheduling during reviews. Is an employee lagging behind because he or she has other responsibilities and therefore cannot undertake a heavy shift? Let the employee work a lighter shift.

3. Data driven staff scheduling
While preparing the weekly schedule, keep in mind that staff scheduling requirements for the Wednesday lunchtime rush may be different from staffing requirements for a Saturday dinner shift. Review sales data and previous staff scheduling reports to arrive at a practical number.

4. Involve employees
Communicating with employees and taking their needs into account can help improve the scheduling process. Data shows that 96% of hourly wage workers feel they are not given enough respect at the workplace. An empathetic work schedule will pay attention to employee feedback, making the employee feel heard and cared for. Workforce management tools can record employee feedback and requests.

5. Schedule employee shifts in advance
Creating employee work schedules in advance will prevent staffing problems and avoid miscommunication. An employee unable to work the shift assigned to them in the work schedule can communicate their concern to management in advance. The manager can then schedule changes immediately. An employee scheduling app allows employees to access the schedule on their mobile phones and communicate instantly and directly to their managers and colleagues.

6. Accommodate leave requests
While working on employee schedules, ensure that requests for time-offs are accommodated. Employees can consult with one another directly for shift swaps and notify the manager of the same.

7. Use a scheduling software
The best way to create an effective work schedule is to use scheduling software or a scheduling app. Staff scheduling software will design work schedules automatically, taking into account labor costs, off-time requests, staff availability, Project Management, and labor compliance.

How Can Forecasting Help Create Better Work Schedules?

Forecasting uses data to estimate restaurant sales for a given period of time. It helps a restaurant set goals for business growth, and predicts overall profits and revenue. But forecasting tools also help a restaurant plan inventory, oversee Project Management and schedule employees for shifts.

Here's how a forecasting app like Zip Forecasting can help create better employee work schedules-

Forecasting helps a business predict lean and busy time periods by reviewing historical sales data. This helps a manager estimate the number of the employees needed for a particular shift.
Forecasting also helps track seasonal changes, so a manager can plan work schedules taking into consideration holidays, or seasonal flus, which result in poor employee attendance.
Forecasting can make sure a business is compliant with labor laws. It does this by pointing out potential spikes in customer traffic and calling out the labor needed for those time periods. Responding to this demand, a manager can design a work schedule, assigning extra staff to a shift without overworking anyone or breaching local labor laws. By making sure employees are not overworked, a manager can also ensure better staff retention.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

The Benefits of Scheduling Software

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Creating work schedules for employees can be done easily with employee scheduling software or employee scheduling apps.
These are the benefits of using a scheduling app like Zip Schedules-

  • A scheduling app will make it possible to effortlessly create work schedules. A manager doesn't have to create a new schedule every day or week. A schedule template has only to be filled with employee names.
  • It will alert management to off-time requests and days off to better manage shift scheduling.
  • The app will reduce labor costs as it accurately tracks actual work hours, overtime and breaks.
  • A scheduling app has tools that keep track of local labour laws and other industry-specific state and local legal requirements. Changes to the laws or new notifications are automatically updated in the app.

Scheduling Software FAQs

Q1. What are the key features to look for while selecting an Employee Scheduling app?
A. Before you buy or subscribe to employee scheduling software make sure the app is user-friendly, provides in-depth analytics and data reports, allows easy communication, facilitates shift swaps and approvals, and records employee availability.

Q2. Which are the best employee scheduling software for restaurants?
A. The besEmployee Scheduling software for restaurants are-
1. Zip Schedules
2. Coast
3. Homebase
4. When I Work
5. 7shifts
6. HotSchedules
7. Deputy
8. Planday
9. Push Operations
10. Sling

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