Advanced Employee Rostering: Managing Busy Staff

Managing employees who are overworked and stressed out can be difficult. Here are a few handy tips to take staff scheduling to the next level. Read on!
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Busy chefs in a restaurant kitchen

Small changes that make a big difference

In our last article on staff management we discussed the agonies involved when you have too many staff with too little to do.

But the other extreme is just as bad. When employees are overworked and stressed out, mistakes can happen, and tempers can flare. Plus, you are likely to lose business and your reputation can suffer: there is only so long that customers are prepared to wait in a queue or at table.

Again, a few tweaks to your scheduling may only deliver a small benefit on a daily basis, but over the course of a year it could have a big impact not only on your bottom line, but also on customer satisfaction, TripAdvisor ratings and employee morale.

Part 5: Employee Rostering: Managing A Busy Staff

Staff rushed off their feet? Probably the worst thing to do is to panic-recruit. You probably also want to avoid getting temp staff through an agency. Before you do either of these, step back and give it some thought.

It is a mistake to assume that your staff do not have time to do the job. Sometimes it is simply a case of working smarter.

As a manager, this should always be on your mind: how can I rearrange things so that staff get things done more quickly?

Visibility over the roster, and better understanding of it, gives you the flexibility to move things around.

1. Draw up and communicate rosters early to give your staff time to plan their week and pay attention to the timeframe you are scheduling for.

Is there a public holiday coming up or some other event that might increase or decrease footfall? Make sure that you have enough of your most experienced and valuable staff on duty for busy shifts, and all hands on deck when it is seriously busy – plan lunch breaks to avoid problems.

2. Take staff interests and holiday requirements into account early on to reconcile your needs with those of your staff.

That way you will raise morale within your team and reduce the risk of staff no-shows and attrition. Take a flexible approach to avoid being short staffed in busy periods by encouraging shift swapping.

3. It always pays, sooner or later, to have a Plan B.

A good backup plan of substitutes will allow you to keep service levels at a premium. By creating a list of reliable last minute or short-term staff you can call on, you’ll have support there when you need it.


4. Plan shift handovers to minimise service disruptions.

Overlaps should be long enough to enable a smooth transition, but short enough to avoid chatting and time-wasting. This often puts those on the later shift under time pressure, which means items on the daily checklist are left undone.

5. Your time as a manager is also valuable, so it is a mistake to micromanage, especially with experienced staff.

Manage by exception, i.e. stay out of things so long as things are going OK and intervene only when necessary. Draw up checklists and let them get on with it. That way bartenders and servers know the work they need to get through daily when opening and closing the restaurant or bar. This will save you time and it will allow staff to get away on time at the end of their shifts.

6. Open and clear communication is a vitally important aspect of scheduling.

Make sure that you’re creating easy ways for your team to record important information and pass it on to you, your managers and the next shift. And make sure that everyone is getting the information they need to be effective. You don’t have a completely free hand in rostering your employees – so in our next article we will look at compliance with the Working Time Directive.

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