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Large Chain, Large Staff, Large Problems? An Employee Scheduling App Can Help

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Yamini P.

By Yamini P.

What is Employee Scheduling?

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Employee scheduling is the process of creating a staff timetable, also called an employee work schedule, to satisfy current and future staffing demands at a workplace. Employee scheduling enables businesses to forecast labor requirements, assign personnel to meet those requirements, and make real time adjustments when required. Creating schedules makes sure the transition from one shift to another is seamless and the workflow is hassle-free.

Employee scheduling is critical for the seamless operation of any industry, particularly those that rely on shifts. Scheduling done right will take into account last-minute changes, such as late arrival or a sudden leave of absence. Of late, scheduling has becoming almost entirely automated, thanks to the proliferation of employee scheduling apps like Zip Schedules (available on Hubworks, the restaurant app store). With software now managing schedules, businesses can get the most out of their workforce.

Employee Scheduling Difficulties Encountered by Restaurant Chains

When you have a multi-unit enterprise, managing a large workforce across locations can be a challenge. The problem is exacerbated when employees work across different states, or when the employee management technology is not the same at each unit. Employee scheduling and administration then becomes complex and time-consuming. Here are additional challenges enterprise businesses face-

  • Staff demand management
Some restaurants hire few employees. Even if a few of them work across locations, there will be a staff shortage when all the locations operate at maximum capacity. This will become more challenging as demand grows. For example, some employees at one site may be working a slow shift, while those at an understaffed sister store may be struggling.

  • Lack of effective communication
Communication plays a big role in the success of any company. When it comes to staff scheduling, managers need to make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page. Make sure you create a clear and transparent communication channel for your whole team. There shouldn't be any mix-up or delayed messages when you create employee schedules. Proper communication allows transparent shift swapping, prior notifications and other schedule-related information.

  • Labor Compliance
When it comes to multi-location restaurant compliance, there are a lot of variables to consider. An employee who works more than 40 hours at two different locations for the same company, for example, should be paid overtime. There may also be limitations in your area on what constitutes a fair workweek and to whom workweek laws apply.

  • Tracking employee engagement
Things may be working fine for the staff at one location, but not too well for another set of employees. This may cause discontent at the latter location. Employees may feel a sense of disconnection with the management and choose to quit.

  • Manual reports
If you are not using the right employee management system, a great deal of time is spent creating employee reports, analyzing them, and creating payrolls for a large staff spread out across different locations. But with the right employee scheduling software, it's easy to manage dispersed teams.

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

Shift Scheduling the Old-Fashioned Way (And the Problems Thereof)

John forgot to hand in his shift preference. Vandy called up to say she's down with the flu. Is your employee schedule messed up because of these last-minute changes? Do you still rely on spreadsheets to keep track of employee shifts? It's an old-fashioned method, and if you have to manage schedules manually, shift requests can become a regular annoyance. It becomes even more daunting when a business has to deal with multiple outlets. Let's take a look at the challenges of shift scheduling on spreadsheets.

  • Time-consuming
When you're in charge of assigning employee shifts, your routine begins with inquiring about their availability for the next week, or month. Some employees submit their shift requests on time, while others are late handing them in, or forget to do it altogether. This is frustrating for a staff scheduler, especially when schedules are drawn on spreadsheets. Employee shift scheduling is time-consuming and confusing as it is, and making changes to a schedule adds to the manager's burden, preventing him or her from doing more productive work.

  • Job satisfaction dwindles
Employees sometimes ask their managers to alter their shift timings for various reasons. But shift change requests are sometimes missed due to the manager's oversight. Or a manager may be incapable of accommodating certain requests. And when you have to manually enter, and later edit, shift change requests on a spreadsheet, the task becomes even more frustrating. Employees become dissatisfied when their requests cannot be granted and work efficiency declines.

  • Prone to error
Spreadsheet schedules have to mailed to employees at different outlets. Employees then have to take printouts and keep referring to them to make sure they know their shift timings. The printouts are sometimes misplaced, or employees read their shifts incorrectly. This is why countless businesses have migrated from scheduling spreadsheets to scheduling software.

  • 20% of a scheduler's time is wasted in manually creating work schedules.
  • 3.14 hours are lost every week creating job schedules and managing shifts.
  • Employee scheduling software generates 174% more turnover.
  • 140 hours are wasted annually when you use a manual work schedule.

What is Employee Scheduling Software?

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Employee scheduling software helps businesses across industries manage employee work hours more efficiently. What's more, automated employee schedules give staff a greater sense of ownership of their time, and makes them more accountable.

An employee scheduling software is a business software application that automates the process of building and managing employee work schedules. It has a graphical interface, replication tools, and templates. Restaurant owners who use this software can drag and drop employees into various shifts. They can create standard schedules and modify them as and when required. An employee scheduling software also contains options for employee availability tracking, schedule preferences, and certification expiration.

When you automate the process of creating schedules, it produces consistent results, increases productivity, manages labor costs, and improves job satisfaction. The best employee scheduling apps automate notifications for shift changes and new schedules, auto assign shifts, create time cards, allow clock-in and clock-out, and facilitate payroll file imports.

According to a recent survey, when you use a spreadsheet to plot timelines and schedules, it wastes over 20% of the employee's time. Around 140 hours of a scheduler's time is spent creating schedules manually. This time would have been better spent on other productive activities. Manual scheduling also lacks a structured schedule format, causing employees to lose track of their tasks, resulting in lower productivity.

Technical solutions, like Zip Schedules from Hubworks, address these hurdles and improve the productivity of team members. So what does employee scheduling software do exactly? It helps restaurant owners optimize their work and scheduling management needs in the following ways-

1. Work management- Employee scheduling software helps oversee operations by managing billable and non-billable work, allocating budgets, scheduling meetings, distributing employee workloads, and managing employee portfolios.

2. Schedule overview- An employee schedule maker helps restaurant owners manage weekly, biweekly, and monthly shifts, so that they have an overview of who's assigned to what duty, on what shift and at which location.

3. Real time communication- This is one of the most important features of employee scheduling software. Through their mobile app, employees can receive emails and text messages in real time, alerting them immediately to announcements and shift changes. It allows them to communicate directly with their manager or colleagues, cutting down time it would take to request and receive permission for shift swaps or time off.

4. Auto-assign shift- Assigning shifts is a time-consuming process. This feature allows a manager to automatically assign employees to appropriate roles in a hassle-free manner.

5. Shift swapping- This feature makes it easy for employees to swap shifts should they need to. It prevents double-booking to a particular shift and makes the employee schedule transparent.

6. Reports and analytics- This feature provides insight into labor costs, productivity and long-term performance. It helps employers trim their outlay on underperforming staff and realign shifts based on customer traffic.

7. Integrations- A payroll management system can be integrated with employee scheduling software to centralizing attendance tracking and accounting.

Advantages of Employee Scheduling Apps

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Managing employee schedules for restaurants with a large staff is extremely complex. The scheduling process and rules change according to department, site, and business unit. Manual tools like spreadsheets and phone trees can provide customized solutions, but they are generally inefficient when it comes to meeting the scale and pace of today's business needs. This article has already proven the upside of employee scheduling software. Let's delve deeper into the benefits of employee scheduling apps.

1. Keeps everybody on the same page-
Switching from manual scheduling to employee scheduling software helps you handle resource availability and allocation. A scheduling app with a clean interface, is easy to use and gathers all resources at one location. Employees, too, can log into a single system to check their schedules and make modifications based on their availability. This is linked to the cloud, ensuring that other employees and managers in different places are kept informed and on the same page.

2. Time for personal and professional commitments

It is observed that employees who work in a flexible environment are more productive and motivated than their counterparts who alter their personal responsibilities according to their shifts. Employee scheduling software helps employees manage shifts according to their needs and priorities.

3. Reduces conflict

Employee scheduling software makes it simple for employees to collaborate around their schedules. Employee schedule problems and conflicts are avoided and time-off requests can be accommodated. Employee satisfaction rises dramatically on account of this.

  • Around 68% of employee schedules are handwritten. Almost 45% of employees receive their work schedule on a piece of paper.
  • In 1 out of 10 businesses in the U.S. operating on shifts, around 18 percent say they miss their shift several times a week.
  • Employers lose thousands of dollars when employees miss their shifts. To find a last minute replacement they have to shell out around $7594 a year.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. employers give employees less than a week's notice about their work shifts and schedules. More than 55 % of shift workers say they need more notice time.

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

Best Employee Scheduling Apps for Large Restaurant Chains

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Restaurant scheduling apps are designed to help restaurants and other foodservice businesses organize and plan their workforce schedules. Restaurant managers and owners can use a restaurant scheduling app or software to organize shift schedules easily and quickly. It also helps them see what the schedule looks like, monitor clock-in and clock-out time, and even send text messages and emails to management and colleagues. A restaurant scheduling software can be used along with or integrated with restaurant POS systems, restaurant management software, and other back-office software like accounting tools. Here's a list of the best five restaurant scheduling apps available in the market.

1. Zip Schedules
Zip Schedules is an employee scheduling app that helps you create quick, intuitive schedules on the fly. It is easy to use, fully automated and adheres to local labor laws. A self-implemented system, it allows a restaurant manager to save favorite schedules as templates so that they don't waste time creating new ones.

Zip Schedules uses an internal messaging system for managers to communicate instantly with their teams across locations. Its powerful forecasting engine predicts future business needs based on sales and transactions. The price of this software depends on the number of employees at an organization. It is priced at $19 per month per location for 1-20 employees and $39 for 21-50 employees. The software can be customized for establishments with over 51 employees. More details about Zip Schedules is available at zipschedules.com or hubworks.com. Hubworks is a dedicated 'app store' for the restaurant industry, featuring software products that automate every aspect of the food business.

2. 7shifts
Designed specifically for restaurants, 7shifts helps restaurant owners and managers minimize scheduling efforts and streamline their work schedules. Its main features include auto scheduling based on system intelligence, editable timekeeping for faster payroll, and one-time task list creation for the entire team according to shift timings. It also has easy communication tools that enable time off requests and shift swaps. The free plan from 7shifts includes simple scheduling for one location. Of its three paid plans, the Appetizer plan is available at $17.99 a month, the Entree plan is priced at $39.99 a month and the Works plan is available at $69.99 per month.

3. Deputy
In addition to its staff scheduling and employee management features, Deputy offers precise timekeeping and attendance tracking. It also provides pre-shift health checks for employees to keep the workplace safe. Deputy scheduling app's free plan offers a one-month free trial. Its paid scheduling plan is available at $2.50 per user per month; the time and attendance plan is available at $2.50 per user per month, its premium plan is available at $4.50 per user per month, while its Enterprise plan offers pricing on quote.

4. Coast
Coast's scheduling software helps restaurant owners create and send weekly schedules, communicate with staff, and request shift swaps. Its mobile app can create schedules for the week or month in minutes and easily control multiple schedules across teams and locations. It has a free plan that includes unlimited messaging, scheduling, and task history. Its Starter plan is available at $4 per user per month, while the Plus plan is available at $8 per user month. Its Professional plan pricing is undisclosed and is customizable.

5. Homebase
Homebase is a free employee scheduling software that can create work schedules in minutes with the help of a schedule template. It comes with a mobile instant messaging app that streamlines team communication. The free plan includes online scheduling, payroll tracking, and a centralized dashboard. Its paid Essentials plan is priced at $14 per month, Plus plan is available at $35 per month, and the All in One plan is available at $70 per month.

Scheduling Software FAQs

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Q1. Do I have to have advanced knowledge of apps to use employee scheduling software?
No. To use an employee scheduling software, you do not require any advanced knowledge of web-based applications. For example, Zip Schedules software from Hubworks is easy to use and navigate. It is a self-implemented system with convenient onboarding, an intuitive interface, and a free mobile app.

Q2. Is my data safe on an employee scheduling app?
Yes. Most scheduling software products follow strict rules and guidelines to maintain security and privacy. They also maintain a backup to protect essential information.

Q3. Will employee scheduling software work when my restaurant has multiple locations?
Yes. Employee scheduling software generally works across multiple locations. With Zip Schedules, for example, you can schedule separate locations in one account or create different accounts.

Q4. What is the limit on shifts or number of employees that can use scheduling software?
There is no upper limit. The best employee scheduling software, like Zip Schedules, allows businesses to create as many shifts or employees as they want. Pricing depends on the number of shifts or number of employees. For more details on Zip Schedules pricing, visit zipschedule.com or hubworks.com.

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