According to the National Restaurant Association, just 44% of employees work full-time in restaurants.
This neatly demonstrates why staff scheduling is both important and hard to master.
But master it you will, thanks to the advice you’re about to read and the free staff scheduling spreadsheet you’ll find below.
How to strike the right staffing balance
One of the most important skills you’ll need to perfect when it comes to staff scheduling is striking the right balance. There are so many elements to take on board and so many varying needs between team members that it can all feel a bit overwhelming.
It’s also tough to estimate just when you’ll need high and low levels of staff, depending on the season, economy and any local events which may impact the number of covers you have to deal with.
Here are a few simple ways to strike the right balance:
- keep in mind that understaffing leads to higher levels of stress than overstaffing, so err on the side of caution;
- never favour employees when it comes to granting requests for days off;
- too many staff will raise your overheads and might cause some staff to become lazy;
- new schedules should be communicated efficiently with workers via email, text or clear notice boards; and
- look for tech that enables time clocking and which features integrations with HR software.
Use our free staff scheduling spreadsheet
Scheduling your rota isn’t easy, and that’s why we’ve created an easy-to-use staff scheduling spreadsheet.
It’s free, customisable and includes pretty much everything you need to create the perfect schedule for everyone. Download it today.
6 tips to help you master staff scheduling
1. Schedule in advance (within reason)
Although it’s not possible to schedule staff months in advance (unless you have a really good handle on upcoming events and predicted business), it is important to be prepared.
Try and work around a month in advance, and make sure you send out completed schedules immediately to staff members so they know exactly where they need to be and when. That should give you all time to adjust if necessary.
2. Utilise mixed shifts
A mix of shifts is the best way to ensure your staff remain motivated. It’ll also create a much more vibrant business from your perspective.
The best way to do this is to speak to each staff member and find out what timings work best for them. You’ll hopefully find that there’s a mix across the board, due to personal commitments, and that should enable you to create a mixed shift pattern that works for everyone.
3. Prioritise your best salespeople
If you’ve been running your restaurant for any amount of time, you’ll know that you probably have certain team members who are naturally adept at upselling food and drinks orders.
Try and prioritise the placement of these people in your scheduling so they’re present when you’re most likely to need an uplift in revenue. Highlight what you’re doing with them, too - it might inspire others.
4. Try and offer two days off in a row
As much as you need your team, you need them to be fit and healthy, too, and regular time off will contribute handsomely to their wellbeing.
This is why scheduling two days off in a row is so important. It’s why weekends exist for people who work in ‘normal’ industries!
It won’t always be possible, but try and prioritise those two days off for each staff member (wherever they fall) and make it a feature of your scheduling sheets.
5. Think about the needs of each shift
When scheduling your staff, you need to think about the requirements of each shift.
How many people are likely to walk through the door? What type of customers are you likely to serve during that period? Customise your scheduling so that it will meet the anticipated demands of each day.
6. Always keep in mind emergency shifts
Things go wrong - there’s nothing you can do about that. But you can be prepared.
Whether it be an unexpected illness or sudden, vast upturn in business when you least expect it, your staffing schedule will need to be capable of turning quickly on its feet.
Make sure emergency shifts are kept in mind with at least two or three people on the team ready and waiting should they be needed.
How to monitor and honour time off
As noted above, time off is vital, but it’s something you’ll need to monitor closely as part of your staff scheduling strategy.
For instance, when you hire a new employee, find out what their expectations are of how much time they’ll have off, and when. Do your best to honour those requests, but don’t bend over backwards and beyond your normal policies.
The best approach is to be flexible. Hospitality is a dynamic sector and one in which people work long, unsociable hours. If that means honouring time off in a random but controlled fashion, you’ll probably build a far happier team as a result.
The difference between open and set shifts
There are a couple of shift patterns you can test out when scheduling staff.
They’re known as open shifts and set shifts, and are defined as follows:
- Open shifts are scheduled in set intervals (say, every two weeks), and include unassigned shifts for which staff can volunteer.
- Set shifts require every team member to have a firm schedule that rarely changes, unless there’s a request to do so.
The right one for your business will depend largely on your staff base, their approach to work, the flexibility they have at home and how much control you want to give to them when it comes to scheduling.
If you’re unsure, try both and settle on the one which works best for everyone.
Download the spreadsheet