Industry Dish

How to Make a Restaurant Shift Schedule (Template Included)

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Restaurant managers have a lot on their plate. They ensure that day-to-day services run smoothly, maintain high inventory, provide customer satisfaction in a highly competitive landscape, and lots more—like making, and maintaining the restaurant schedule.

Developing a schedule that accounts for the desires of restaurant staff can go a long way in resolving long-term concerns, increasing on-floor productivity, and above all else, reducing restaurant turnover rates

If you want to avoid those late-night frustrated texts from your staff (and we know you do), then sit back, grab a notepad, and read on. We’ll cover some of the best shift practices you can rely on for your restaurant schedule and even share a restaurant schedule template.

Importance of restaurant scheduling

As you read this, you might be thinking, “Shouldn’t my employees be willing to put aside their personal obligations and commit to my business?” Well, it’s not that simple. An established scheduling practice will result in a content staff and higher productivity rates. 

Bartenders, servers, hosts, and cooks can all benefit from a schedule that allows them to attend to their personal needs while remaining efficient in their operation. Without a schedule, you run the risk of employee burnout, customer dissatisfaction, and high turnover. Think of this as a sort of domino effect. Not to mention, your competitors will always be on the hunt for dissatisfied employees who feel as if they are not valued or treated fairly.

Types of restaurant work schedules

There are several shift options you can select for your restaurant schedule template. Each one comes with benefits and drawbacks, so examine them thoroughly before deciding on a strategy to address staffing challenges. 

The fixed shift

A fixed shift schedule involves having employees work the same shifts repeatedly. Managers often rely on a fixed schedule to establish consistency and stability among staff. Not to mention, adjustments are rarely needed. 

Pros: Employees can count on predictable hours which allows them to attend to other personal needs, such as doctor appointments, childcare needs, and school. Managers rarely have to change their scheduling practices, unless they’re accommodating for sudden staff changes or on-site demands. 

Cons: There’s not a lot of room for flexibility in a fixed schedule. Understaffed restaurants face these challenges during rush hours, which makes it difficult to staff up at the last minute. You certainly wouldn’t want to be sending those on-call texts to employees binge-watching Netflix on their day off!

The rotating shift 

A rotating shift is one in which staff members rotate between shifts on a set schedule. This can happen in one of several ways. Employees can switch with others between lunch and dinner shifts on a weekly or monthly basis. Other rotating practices may involve an employee working three days shifts and one night shift at the end of the week. 

Pros: If you operate a 24/7 restaurant, then a rotating practice is a bullseye hit. You’ll evenly spread out shifts, improve employee relationships, and establish a flexible working environment. 

Cons: Some employees may find it difficult to adjust between certain shifts, e.g, morning and night shifts. And you wouldn’t want a sluggish bartender messing up a standard margarita order!

On-call shift

On-call shift strategies are exactly what they sound like: staff members are called in when they’re needed. This is often the case for managers who may need one or more servers during unexpected rushes or when an employee calls out before their assigned shift.

Pros: Because your restaurant won’t be understaffed or overstaffed, you can actually save money on labor costs and wages (ka-ching)! Employees will also have more flexibility over their schedules. 

Cons: Your employees may not appreciate those last minute requests for their assistance, especially if they have ongoing personal obligations. 

The split shift

A split shift occurs when staff members divide their shifts into two or more parts throughout the day. For example, a server might work a breakfast shift then come back for dinner hours. As long as shifts are separated by more than a regular break period, then it’s a split shift.

Pros: No server wants to idle as they wait for customers to show up. You can adjust staffing based on restaurant demand, while allowing your employees to rest and recharge before coming back for their second round.

Cons: Some states have regulations you need to be aware of. In California, split shift employees are entitled to premium pay. Additionally, your employees may experience burnout and frustration, especially if they’re spending more money on commuting.

The swing shift

Swing shifts involve working outside of normal business hours. Restaurants and other service industries can choose how they implement swing shifts schedules. The purpose is to fill in gaps between early and late shifts, while changing periodically. 

Pros: A swing shift strategy can offer balance and flexibility in a demanding setting. Also, managers can find the right set of skills for a given period. 

Cons: Swing shifts provide little to no certainty. Your staff may not be willing to work on such short notice or outside of business hours. This may impact your operations. 

Overtime shift

Overtime shifts go beyond the standard 40 hours per week schedule. Industries may rely on some form of overtime scheduling to address high demand. Remember that the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates overtime pay for non-exempt employees. 

Pros: Who wouldn’t want to earn a bonus for a job well done? Employees will certainly enjoy seeing their bank account padded with overtime pay. Additionally, managers can get more coverage for unexpected busy periods.

Cons: You know the old saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees?” Well, overtime shifts drive up labor costs. Plus, managers have to abide by overtime labor laws.

The no-schedule shift

This type of scheduling is done without any regularity. This means that managers schedule employees as needed. A bartender may work three happy hour shifts and two swing shifts in one week. While managers post these schedules ahead of time, employees must take responsibility for noting their hours. 

Pros: With a no-schedule strategy, the sky's the limit! This means that managers can combine, change, and experiment with their scheduling however they wish. Plus, managers can easily accommodate upcoming holidays or unexpected events.

Cons: Some employees find it difficult to adapt to a work environment with a changing schedule. Managers may find it difficult to find the right balance between restaurant demands and staff needs.

As you can see, there are many scheduling practices you can use for your restaurant employee schedule template. It takes research, practice, and evaluation to find the right solution that combines service demand with employee satisfaction. Luckily, Qwick’s flexible staffing platform is designed to provide your business with experienced talent whenever you need it. 

Easily fill open shifts with Qwick

If you’re struggling with finding the right balance for your restaurant schedule and frequently have people calling off, then use Qwick to schedule additional staff or find last-minute replacements. Qwick freelancers are vetted for experience, credentials, professionalism, and are eager to lend a hand at your business.

Create a Qwick account and start filling shifts with top-rated talent today.

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