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How To Build A Restaurant Employee Schedule

Updated on November 7, 2014

How To Build A Restaurant Employee Schedule

A good employee schedule is one of the foundations for running a smooth operation.
A good employee schedule is one of the foundations for running a smooth operation. | Source

Easy Employee Scheduling Tips

Employee scheduling can be easy if you take the right approach. Without proper management scheduling your staff, even knowing who your staff is, can be very difficult. The schedule is your tool, it will guide you to which positions you have and which need to be filled. Most importantly it will let you know at a glance who is working when. The catch is that you must work your schedule. One error that many business owners and manager do is let the schedule run them. They are constantly running around trying to fill gaps and juggle the personal lives of their employees. By focusing on the needs of the business you can get a more harmonious blending of your scheduling needs and those of your staff.

First Time Restaurant Manager

What is the schedule?

The schedule is the map that tells your staff where and when to be at work. It is the point of coordination for your employees and the proper staffing of the restaurant. Most schedules are written or printed out and hung in a conspicuous place for all to see. It may shock you to hear that some restaurants rely on a verbal schedule; that is, word of mouth, nothing is written down. Others rely on fancy internet software like HotSchedules to connect with their employees through the ether. Whichever you choose it should be right for the business.

To start a new schedule, simply write out a list of what positions you think you need for each day in order to be properly staffed. Count up the number of shifts you have for each position and divide by five, this will give you a rough idea of how many positions you have for each job. For example; if you you are open 6 days a week for lunch and dinner and need two cooks for each shift then you have a total of 24 shifts available. Divided by 5 that makes 5 (rounded up) positions that need to be filled. Do this for each position to see what your needs are. Because of the part-time nature that is inherent in service positions it is better to determine those schedule needs by dividing the shifts by 4 instead of 5.

  • Compare your needs with what you actually have. How does this match up? Do you have too many or too few? It is always better to have to many, especially when it comes to service staff.
  • It is by far better to have too many staff than too few, complaints about not enough shifts are easier to handle than being understaffed and spread thin.

Sample Restaurant Schedule

Once your basic restaurant schedule is written out it will be easy to see how many employees you will need. Note that this schedule does not include dishwashers, bussers or hosts.
Once your basic restaurant schedule is written out it will be easy to see how many employees you will need. Note that this schedule does not include dishwashers, bussers or hosts. | Source

Filling Restaurant Schedule Gaps

  • Hiring is the key to filling restaurant schedule gaps. If you have shifts in your schedule you can not fill with your current staff it is time to hire. If you have employees who are always getting overtime or working 6 days a week it is also time to hire. Taking the time to find the right person is recommended, it will save you wasted time and headaches later on.
  • Sometimes seasonal help is needed on part-time or full-time basis. Hiring early and training well are good points to remember here. It is really important to let those staff members know that they may not have a job at the end of the season. However, some of your best part-time or future permanent employees can come from this pool.
  • I find it useful to keep one or two "fill in" people handy. These are trained staff who do not work as part of the regular schedule but can be relied on in times of need. Usually I can call this person when I am writing the new schedule if I have some gaps.

Two Types Of Restaurant Schedules

There are two types of basic restaurant schedules that are in use today; set schedules and variable sche dules. Set schedules are when each employee works the same shifts each week, variable schedules are when each employee works different shifts each week. There are pros and cons to each kind of schedule and both can be used effectively. Smaller restaurants with only a few employees may find having a set schedule of more benefit. Likewise, some restaurants may choose to schedule back of the house staff one way and front of the house staff another.

  • Set Schedules allow some consistency to restaurant operations as well as to the personal lives of the staff. It also makes scheduling much easier because you know in advance who is working when. A bonus for the scheduler is that the employees take on an extra amount of responsibility for covering their shifts when they want time off.
  • Variable Schedules mean that anyone could work at any time. This helps maintain a level of service that is consistent for the restaurant based on set standards and not any one individual. It also alleviates most (I started to write "any", haha) issues with having available staff; if you hire employees with open availability then in theory you should always have someone available.


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