The holidays can be a difficult time to schedule employees, who have celebrations and family obligations of their own to attend. Scheduling at this time of year takes a lot of planning and a certain level of diplomacy: if you own a restaurant that will be open for the holidays, it’s not realistic to give every employee the day off on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You need to be organized, fair, and transparent about how schedules will be determined. Here are some additional tips for holiday scheduling:
- Don’t wait until the last minute: Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on the same day every year, so there are no surprises there. Don’t procrastinate when making the holiday work schedule. Set an early deadline for vacation requests so you can take them into account. Before approving any days off, ask for volunteers to cover the most coveted days. Consider rewarding those who work holiday shifts with a higher hourly rate, cash bonus, or tokens of your appreciation. Employees like to feel valued, especially during holiday times, so a thoughtful gift or bonus can help keep morale high all season long.
- Be Flexible: If it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” don’t spoil it by being a Grinch. If possible, employ some form of flexible holiday scheduling, which is sure to be appreciated long after the season is over. Consider adjustable shifts where employees can work longer shifts for fewer days, instead of the typical 8-hour, 5-day work week. If a particular day or shift during the holidays is usually slow for your restaurant, such the last shift on Christmas Eve, consider closing to give employees the night to spend with their families. Also be prepared for the unexpected — make sure your staff has your contact information in case they need to reach you with a last-minute schedule conflict. A point of sale (POS) solution that enables you to manage schedules on the go can be a valuable tool for handling changes.
- Incentivize early ordering: One of the easiest ways to get a handle on the right amount of labor to schedule is to encourage early ordering or reservations to help gauge demand. A night where there is a private party or fully booked seating is going to require full staff (and maybe extra help), while a day with few reservations means a skeleton crew could get the job done. Consider offering incentives, such as a free appetizer or a discount, for reservations that are made by a certain date. Knowing how many tables to expect on any given day will take some of the guesswork out of holiday scheduling.
To make scheduling easier during the holidays — or any time of the year — leverage your POS solution’s labor scheduling tool to help create optimized employee schedules, facilitate clock ins and schedule enforcement, and generate reports and schedule budgets. For more information, on labor scheduling solutions, contact Leebro POS.