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Restaurant Scheduling: Avoid Last Minute Scrambles

Is scrambling to get every shift covered the most stressful part of running your restaurant?
By understanding the causes of last minute scrambles, developing policies to get shifts covered, and utilizing the resources available through free shift scheduling software, you can alleviate this common headache of employee shift scheduling.


What are the impacts of last-minute shift scheduling?

Many managers assume they are fully staffed when they have enough employees to cover each shift. However, this overlooks the coverage you’d need when employees call out, or simply don’t show up. Last-minute shift scheduling affects your operations in the following ways:


  • Paying more in overtime wages
  • Employee burnout
  • Inability to properly staff for demand, leading to decrease in income
  • Decrease in quality of customer service
  • Difficulty making schedules due to employees covering extra shifts


How can you avoid last minute scrambles?


Get employee input. According to the International Social Survey Program, almost half of all employees have a work schedule set entirely by their manager, with no input on the hours they work. The study links this — understandably — to lower levels of satisfaction and dedication. When possible, allow your employees to have input in their schedule from the very beginning. In the interview phase, ask each candidate how many shifts they want a week, and which days they absolutely cannot work. [bctt tweet=”Allow your employees to have input in their schedule from the very beginning.” username=”@joinhomebase”]



Make your schedule weeks in advance. According to Economic Policy Institute, more than four out of every ten employees have less than a week after they receive their schedule to fill shifts they cannot work. Be sure to give your employees plenty of lead time to work out scheduling conflicts. J.P., owner of a popular vapor shop in Chicago says this is an ideal scheduling strategy for his employees.


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Cross train your new hires. During the onboarding process, let your new hires know cross training is necessary for their new position. From there, you can train each server to also be a host, to bus tables, or tend to back-of-house duties. [bctt tweet=”Cross train your new hires. You’ll have more flexibility when shifts are shorthanded.” username=”@joinhomebase”]


Use shift scheduling software to manage your employees. Using the best restaurant scheduling software will eliminate your last-minute scrambles to cover a shift. Some free shift scheduling software even allows an employee to find a replacement to cover their shift right from their phones. Your managers are also able to approve schedule changes while on the go.

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