Employees the great dilemma of their schedules

Not sure how to program the staff effectively? In this article we share 9 steps that will help you achieve it.

Effective employee scheduling is theoretically simple: Create optimal work schedules, so you never go overboard or understaffed. But in practice, it is just the opposite.

There are many types of shifts to choose between rotary and fixed, and more than 500 shift patterns. Creating a suitable schedule for your business can be a great challenge. Even once you have created a schedule, there is no guarantee that it will still be optimal as you have to deal with last minute shift changes and requests for free time.

Fortunately, there is good news. In this article, you will learn what the keys to effective scheduling are and how to effectively schedule employees in 9 simple steps. See the keys to effective scheduling like building blocks to create a schedule.

The keys to effective programming

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Creating a strong schedule requires that you carefully balance both the needs of your staff and the business. If, for example, you focus primarily on business needs, such as having a mix of the correct shifts, without considering that some employees will not enjoy a particular shift, employee morale and performance will suffer.

Employee needs

Your employees' scheduling needs will differ based on their job role. These include:

  • Wishing advance notice to manage their lives. Constant last minute shift notices will cause resentment and unhappiness
  • Take turns that match your lifestyle. For example, a night shift is probably not suitable for an employee who has a family. On the other hand, someone who is single or fresh out of college may be happier with this type of shift.
  • Know what their job role is, so they understand what is expected of them
  • Being able to self-manage time off requests, something they can easily do with employee scheduling software
  • The ability to change or purchase additional shifts in no time

Commercial requirements

Your company's scheduling requirements will vary from department to department. These cover:

  • The right shift mix for your business. Some types of shifts are better suited to your business than others. Rotating shifts, for example, work well for 24/7 operations. Considering that fixed hours are ideal for companies that mainly hire career personnel
  • The desire for optimal working hours that ensure you always have the right number of employees working. This helps you maintain costs work under control.
  • Being able to better manage employee turnover rates, which is especially important if you have a restaurant since turnover rates are notoriously high
  • Access programming software that seamlessly integrates with your POS system to reduce the time spent creating and managing programs

How to effectively schedule employees

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Now that you understand the importance of incorporating business and personnel needs into your schedules, let's look at a simple 9-step process to effectively schedule employees (examples included).

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Step 1: Set your work production standards

This is a two-part process:

  1. Determine how much work an employee with a specific job is expected to complete within a certain number of hours. "How much work" can be measured in various ways, depending on your business. For example, if you administer a restaurant, you can see how many tapas and place settings a waiter completes in a specific time frame. Repeat this process for every job in your business.
  2. Specify the tasks for each job role. Again, these tasks will differ depending on your business. Continuing with the example of restaurant, the kitchen staff will have to prepare food, prepare food for clients and clean their station at the end of the shift.

Step 2: plot current activity levels

Once you understand the job production standards, it's time to examine your current activity levels - how busy you are on certain days and at specific times of the day.

This Insights It will help you determine the optimal number of staff to schedule during your hours of operation. While you may be tempted to take strategic Based on your intuition, after all, you know your business better than anyone, try not to. Your intuition may be wrong and lead to less than optimal times that leave you or are understaffed.

The most effective approach is to analyze business data from sales and labor reports to inform your scheduling process. Sales reports, for example, can tell restaurateurs how much hedging they are doing on certain days, when busiest times occur, and which months are quieter than others. This data can help identify precise changes that require more staff and vice versa.

Step 3: Predict future activity levels

Use current activity levels to forecast future activity levels. Consider the daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales cycles. If, for example, your data tells you that specific times of the day or year are always busier than others, you can predict with some certainty that this pattern will repeat itself and plan accordingly.

Step 4: Determine the exact number of employees you need

Again, avoid the need to blindly follow your gut and try to determine the exact number of staff you need. Divide the production standards by the number of customers. For example, if you administer a restaurant He regularly does 150 tapas on a Tuesday and a waiter can make 30 tapas in an 8 hour shift, so he will probably need 5 servers.

Keep in mind that some employees are more productive than others. While you don't want to overload these employees, you can schedule fewer staff when they're on a shift. Finally, check your results with your intuition and make any final adjustments that feel right.

Step 5: incorporate staff needs (and other considerations)

The next step is to balance the need for an optimized schedule with the needs of the employees. This means that you must ensure that:

  • Notify staff in advance of schedule changes
  • Combine shifts with the right staff
  • Assign a fair number of shifts per employee
  • Clearly define roles to avoid confusion.
  • Give employees the option to easily change shifts
  • Allow employees to self-manage requests for free time

Don't forget about contingencies - plan for absenteeism and expect last minute shift changes. And lastly, work closely with your human resources department to make sure you're not breaking any labor laws, or read the laws in your area to make sure you're still complying.

Step 6: Select your shift scheduling method

Now is the time to create your schedule. When creating your schedule, there are three methods to choose from: pen and paper, Google or Excel spreadsheets, and employee scheduling software. To select a suitable method for your business, discuss the pros and cons of each:

  1. Using a pen and paper to create schedules on bulletin boards is the most cost-effective, but also the one that requires the most time.
  2. Employee scheduling software requires the largest monetary investment, but saves you time creating and administration hours, not to mention money, in the long run. See how a restaurant used employee scheduling software to save up to $ 2,000 / month in labor.
  3. Excel, although more advanced than pen and paper, still requires an investment of time to create programs and cannot automate the programming process as it can with software.

If you are a restaurateur who uses or plans to use Excel to schedule employees, below is an example of how to schedule employees with an employee shift schedule template from restaurants.

Example: create a restaurant shift schedule in Excel

Follow this 6-step process to create a restaurant schedule using Excel:

A) Download your Excel template

Microsoft provides Excel templates for creating work schedules, but they are often generic and not designed to restaurants. Fortunately, if you run a restaurant, you can download one tailored to your needs:

B) Open the excel file
C) Choose the day you want your schedule to start
D) Enter the names of the staff

Select the cell "Employee 1" and enter their name. Do the same for all remaining employees.

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Remove the rows you don't need and add the ones you do. Just right click on the appropriate cell and select "Delete" or "Insert."

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E) Edit shifts and roles

Click on the "Shifts" tab, located at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

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Then add a turn or role:

For shifts, change the start and end times and the shift column will update automatically. Include additional shifts after the first line item (9 am to 5 pm) and before the last order line (7 pm to BD - Business Rejection). For roles, include a new role after the first article and before the last article

F) Build your work schedule

Access the “Schedule” spreadsheet. Choose a cell (under a specific day) next to an employee's name. Select a suitable role and shift. Note that each cell consists of two drop-down menus: one for roles and one for shifts.


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Repeat this process for all employees and days, until you are done. You can also make further customizations to your schedule by entering the "store name" and "time period".

Once you're done, click "save as," choose a schedule name, and save it to an easily accessible folder. If you make changes to the schedule from one week to the next, be sure to save the Excel sheet as a different file name (consider naming it by date).

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Step 7: Get senior management approval if you need it

You may or may not need approval from top management. In either case, be sure to scrutinize the schedule based on criteria such as labor costs, employee needs, and business requirements. Make the necessary adjustments.

Step 8: Distribute the schedule to employees

Once you're happy with the final schedule, send it out to your employees so they know when they're working, what is expected of them, and remain accountable. If you are using Excel, you can distribute it by email or provide access to the cloud.

If you use bulletin boards or whiteboards, let employees know when the new schedule is ready and make sure employees know to check it regularly for any changes. You may even consider having regular meetings where you discuss schedule changes.

And if you're using scheduling software, post the schedule on the platform, and staff will instantly receive a notification on their mobile device of the new schedule plus any future changes. This method of distribution means fewer in-person meetings and less input from the manager.

Step 9: Periodically evaluate your schedule and scheduling process

Your work doesn't stop after you've created your schedule. You should periodically analyze your schedule and your scheduling processes to identify problems and find solutions for improvement.


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Effective employee scheduling can be a complicated process that never really ends. You must deal with selecting the right shift types for your business and managing employee requests for free time shift changes and even last minute shifts.

Fortunately, employee scheduling doesn't have to be a challenge as long as you incorporate the needs of employees and businesses into your schedules and follow a nine-step process for master scheduling.

If after doing the above, programming is still a tax process, with the waste of time creating, maintaining, and distributing programs, it may be time to change your process or find a new method of programming.

Source: Brown, Douglas Robert. The Restaurant Manager Manual: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation

I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"