The digital age has brought with it big improvements for restaurant employee scheduling. Labor is one of the largest costs on your profit and loss, and inefficient scheduling will affect your bottom line both in day-to-day costs and employee turnover.
With traditional restaurant scheduling, it takes a lot of time to complete each week’s shifts (especially for a big restaurant with lots of staff) and there is a lot of potential for mistakes. One miscommunication in an awkward or broken restaurant scheduling system can lead to a whole shift scrambling due to either no-shows or overscheduling. Employees need structure when it comes to company processes.
If your scheduling system doesn’t allow for a clear sense of structure, it’s possible that even the most diligent employees won’t be able to get a clear answer for when they’re scheduled. And they could end up feeling like they’re being punished for a system that doesn’t function properly. It’s a morale killer and you risk ultimately losing employee trust and enthusiasm for the job if it happens constantly.
By upgrading your employee schedule program, you can make the entire restaurant scheduling process efficient and clear for everyone involved. Here are some key features to look for when shopping for your new system:
Clear and Intuitive Organization
Look for restaurant scheduling programs with easy organization. Your managers should be able to quickly scan over the calendar and see what roles need to be filled for any given shift. Many of these programs also allow employees to cross out days they can’t work, which will be very helpful when trying to assign people to shifts. And the less time it takes for managers to set up scheduling, the more time they have to manage their other tasks throughout the restaurant.
One of the revelations that comes with acquiring a modern scheduling software is the option for employees to easy switch shifts for themselves where appropriate. It helps your managers avoid having to manually put in substitutes themselves, which is time-consuming and easy to mess up. It also allows your staff to take more control over and responsibility for their time, and not feel like they have to jump through hoops to make sure their schedules get changed properly.
That said, you still need to make sure the program can set up rules to make sure shifts are properly balanced. For example, you don’t want your most hectic shifts of the week filled only with newer employees. So look for software that also allows you to set employee levels so you know there’s always a good balance between seasoned staff and newbies.
Part of allowing your staff more control is getting a cloud-based, restaurant scheduling program that includes a phone/tablet app. Not only can your staff switch shifts from their phones anywhere at any time, but they can also be reminded of when they have shifts coming up and will get notifications for when they’re put in the schedule. Your employees can see the updated schedule immediately, and that’s important for making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s also advantageous for employees to be able to double check the work schedule no matter where they are — potentially lowering your restaurant’s accidental no-shows.
Note that while mobile apps are very popular, the program you chose should also be available via computer browser as a backup for phones that get lost or stolen (and for any employees who don’t have smartphones).
Another popular feature you should watch out for in a restaurant scheduling program is in-program messaging. Having all scheduling communication happen in one place can help avoid misunderstandings or missed messages. And if there’s a weather emergency that leads to a cancelled shift or closing, you can easy message all employees affected so they don’t try to travel to work in dangerous weather conditions.
For businesses of all shapes and sizes, data is important. Restaurateurs especially need to analyze the numbers behind their company and be able to make smart decisions based off of that data. That includes data about employee scheduling over large periods of time. When choosing a new employee scheduling system, look for one that includes easy to read analytic reporting. You can then compare the scheduling to your sales data and start forecasting your labor needs and manage your labor costs more efficiently and accurately.
It’s always better to run through a new system with your staff to ensure everyone understands it, even if the program seems simple to you. This is especially true for restaurants with older employees or those who might not otherwise pick up new technology as quickly. Look for scheduling systems that offer comprehensive training sessions, including hands-on simulations for those who work better jumping into a program.
Once you’ve picked your program, take time to learn the ins and outs yourself. Then have a team meeting where you help everyone go through the system. Let your employees ask questions, too. It’s about making sure everyone is on the same page and understands their role in the scheduling process running smoothly.
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