scheduling | 4 mins read

The Benefits of Using a Rotating Employee Work Schedule in Restaurants

the benefits of using a rotating employee work schedule in restaurants
Grace Njaramba

By Grace Njaramba

What Is a Rotating Employee Work Schedule?

A rotating schedule is an employee scheduling system that enables workers to move through a cycle of working different shifts. The opposite of a rotating schedule is an unchanging/fixed schedule where employees' schedules do not change for a long time.

Let's say your restaurant operates or remains open from 8 a.m. to midnight, as is the norm with most restaurants. Let's also assume that you have two 8-hour shifts daily, one running from 8 to 4 p.m., and the second one running from 4 p.m. to midnight.

With a fixed schedule, you'd have two teams; team 1 working day, and team 2 working nights, and that's it everybody knows their place. With a rotating schedule, the two teams get to swap shifts after every few days or weeks the night team gets to work during the day and vice versa.

The Top Three Benefits of Using a Rotating Employee Work Schedule

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1. A Rotating Employee Work Schedule Leads to More Tips for Servers
Servers earn most of their money through tips, and that's a well-known fact. Now, consider this; not all shifts are equal, some restaurants may be packed during dinnertime, but not quite busy in the afternoon or vice versa. That means your servers will not earn the same amount in terms of tips one team will always pocket more than the other, and that's not fair.

A rotating schedule can help balance work hours and keep your servers happy. For example, you could have team 1 cover the higher paying shifts for 2 weeks, after which team 2 takes over. By doing so, every server has an equal opportunity to work both low-dollar shifts and high-dollar ones regularly.

The downside of this kind of arrangement is that it can affect employee sleep patterns. The human body has an internal clock which can get disrupted with shift work. To make things easier for your employees, you may consider giving them at least 2 to 3 days off between shifts.

Employees may be able to adapt to a rotating schedule more easily if rotated in a clockwise pattern. Knowing what their work schedule is ahead of time can also help them plan their sleep schedule more effectively.

Below is an example of a rotating shift schedule that you may find useful.

Shift duration 8-12 hours
Teams 2
Cycle 4 weeks

Each team sticks to either a day or night shift for two weeks and then rotates to the other shift for two weeks.

2 daytime shifts
2 days off
3 daytime shifts
2 days off
2 daytime shifts
3 days off
2 night shifts
2 days off
3 night shifts
2 days off
2 night shifts
3 days off

The good thing about the pattern above is that employees don't have to work more than three days in a row, and also get a 3-day weekend every other week. Whatever the case, remember that scheduling systems, whether fixed, part-time, on-call or rotating, come with pros and cons. Therefore, before you decide on the best schedule for your employees, it's best if you sit down with them, and ask for their input. By involving your staff, you'll gain an understanding of what scheduling system is preferred.

2. A Rotating Employee Work Schedule Allows for Opportunities to Gain Experience
Rotating schedules provide employees with an opportunity to gain experience working different shifts. Some shifts are more demanding than others, and they all come with different challenges.

When some employees cover less demanding shifts, they may have a bad experience the first time they are scheduled to cover a demanding timeslot. With a rotating schedule, all employees gain the training/experience needed to understand the ebb and flow of business, and can, therefore, be counted on around the clock.

3. A Rotating Employee Work Schedule Balances Skills on All Shifts
Team members are not equal when it comes to skill and experience some are quicker, others are more experienced at handling difficult customers, etc. Rotating shifts allow for the opportunity to pool together different levels of skill, and experience, on a single team. Balancing shifts, in terms of skill level, provides opportunities for less experienced team members to learn from their more experienced counterparts.

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Tips on Correctly Implementing a Rotating Employee Work Schedule

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You'll find that schedules are more effective when shifts are not extreme. Also, employees will need to receive their schedules ahead of time, as was already discussed, since it will make it easier for them to achieve a work-life balance. Making sure employees get notifications or reminders about upcoming shifts can also make things easier for them.

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