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How to use restaurant spreadsheets to manage employee schedules

Creating a detailed schedule for employees each week seems like a daunting task for any restaurant manager or owner. However, with the help of restaurant spreadsheets, this time-consuming job is done in no time using a computer and a record of employee leave requests.

A restaurant can ask its employees for their preferred hours through request forms or an open log book. However, a restaurant manager must know how to limit his requests and prioritize those with viable importance, such as family emergencies or an unexpected illness. The following tips should guide anyone assigned to manage employee schedules during the week:

1. Use different restaurant spreadsheets for each group of employees.

Employees who work the night shift should have different spreadsheets than employees on the day shift. Employees who work in the kitchen should have a separate spreadsheet from those who work on the floor like servers, bartenders, and cashiers. Employees who work at-will or part-time should have a different spreadsheet than full-time employees in the restaurant.

2. Don’t be afraid to rotate.

Rotation may seem impractical at first because employees unfamiliar with a new skill set will likely work slowly and make mistakes more frequently as they learn the rules. However, pairing a veteran with a trainee and scheduling the rotation during dull business hours will pay off during peak periods when he needs an extra hand.

Rotation works best in the kitchen, where multiskills are an asset among assistant chefs. This also works well among servers, whose job is very difficult for them. One group of servers can tend the floor while another group does inventory, transports supplies, or runs a few errands outside the restaurant.

3. Set up your employees’ schedule at least a month before Christmas and New Years.

A schedule set a month before the busiest season of the year takes care of your employees’ remaining vacation time. They will be more than willing to work extra hours if they can spend more time with their families during the holidays.

However, be very strict with the agreed upon restaurant spreadsheets. Your employees must understand that others depend on their commitment to arrive early and work on the days they have agreed to be at work.

In an emergency, be ready to intervene. You can also ask family and friends for help when they can. As a precaution, hire servers as at-will or part-time workers.

4. Consider each employee’s request for time off.

Some restaurants collect time off requests through spreadsheets and request forms, while others leave an open log book, which employees fill out with their preferred hours for the week. Although you would like to accommodate everyone’s requests, you will need to weigh the requests based on the following questions:

A. Can the employee postpone the reason for the request?

If the reason for the time off is a doctor’s appointment for a routine checkup or a mini vacation, then you can talk to the employee about rescheduling to make way for others who have more important matters to attend to.

Weddings and birthdays are important occasions and cannot be delayed or postponed. If the employee has an important role, such as best man at the wedding, he will also prioritize the request for him.

b. Is it possible for someone from the group to act as a substitute?

If one employee replaces another, then offer the replacement additional time off or a monetary reward on top of the additional wages they earn for working the overtime.

5. Setting up an employee schedule integrates the work done by employees in different shifts.

Employees assigned to the morning shift are expected to open the restaurant and prepare it for the day’s work. On the other hand, night shift employees clean the restaurant and put away equipment and supplies.

Each shift may not meet during the day, but each must work in tandem with the other, especially following through on procedures during closing hours. Food left out becomes fodder for rats and roaches, causing problems for the day shift people who had to deal with the pests and health risks involved.

Restaurant spreadsheets are efficient and time-saving for a busy manager or business owner like you. Use a desktop software or create the schedule manually, but either way leads to a more organized and less expensive operation of your restaurant business.