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In the hospitality industry, you have to deal with employees who are still studying or juggle multiple jobs. As a planner, you of course try to take into account the availability and wishes of your staff as much as possible but that can sometimes be a challenging puzzle. Here are six tips on how you can make scheduling your staff easier.

1. Be alert for (inadvertent) “schedule disturbers”

When employees ask for a schedule change, they usually really need it. In order to maintain a good working atmosphere and ensure that everyone is satisfied, you naturally want to prevent employees from (inadvertently or consciously) disrupting the schedule too often. Be alert to employees who are:

  • constantly ask for schedule changes over the weekend;
  • inquire several times a week whether they can leave earlier;
  • swap with colleagues to get shifts they know will earn more tips;
  • don’t show up on a day they wanted to exchange, even though you have indicated that you cannot find a replacement
  • ask for last-minute changes for no valid reason;
  • always have the same situations, so that they always have to change their shift.

You can map out all of these problems if you work with a planning tool. If you recognize these points, it’s important to have a personal conversation with the relevant employee (s). This way you can discover whether the person really experiences problems with the timetable, or whether it is mainly out of self-interest.

Planners also have a responsibility when it comes to scheduling employees. Therefore dare to take a critical look at yourself or your planner.

  • Do not send the schedule at the last minute. Sometimes the schedule is sent a few days in advance. When this happens, it is impossible for employees to make other plans. Whether it concerns appointments with friends, school, or communicating availability for another job.
  • Overtime: nobody wants to work overtime on a structural basis and continuously asking and obliging your employees to work longer is unfair. As an employer, monitor your personnel planning. How many hours did you expect to use? Check afterward how many hours you have actually used. Does this match or does it differ greatly? By regularly comparing planned and realized hours, you get to know your business better and you can draw up an optimal personnel planning that meets your expectations.

As an employer, you should aim to find the perfect balance between enough staff on the floor versus the costs. You don’t want to understaff, but you don’t want over staff either. You may ask the staff if they’re willing to work overtime but don’t let this become a habit. Make sure they work when they are actually available and want to work. These employees are happier and they radiate this to your guests.

2. Take the wishes and needs of personnel into account

The most important success factor for effective personnel planning is scheduling the right people in the right place and at the right time. Do you mainly employ students? Do most of your staff have children? Or people with multiple jobs? Let employees report their availability themselves and try to take this into account when planning. For example, find out which days they attend lectures, when they work elsewhere or at what times they have to pick up their children from school. If you know the wishes and needs of your employees and respond to them, you will prevent schedule changes. Plus, when people are scheduled for a shift they’re good at and enjoy, they are more productive. Read more common problems with creating the schedule here.

3. Know the peak and off-peak hours of your business

Find out for yourself which hours, days, and months are busy. Understand the seasons, peak times, and lunch hours. Use a personnel planning system that provides good insight into these points.

4. Communicate your method

If your staff understands how you approach the planning, they will show more sympathy. For example, explain why you need more staff than usual for this weekend. Or why it is important to have five people for the morning shift instead of three. Be clear on how the schedule works and why an employee is or is not allowed to swap a certain shift. By involving your employees in the process, they become more productive. They feel that you value their efforts and opinion and this has a positive influence on the company.

5. Make it easy to communicate schedule changes

How easy is it for you to let your staff know that they cannot work their scheduled shift? It is important to think along with them and to ensure that the notification of a schedule change runs smoothly. There are two powerful tools:

A system to report schedule changes: do employees call the business and report the desired change to the person who happens to answer? Do they send a text? Or are there specific guidelines when requesting a change? It’s important that you’re well-aligned and everyone knows what’s expected of them. With L1NDA Planner, employees can indicate well in advance when they can or cannot work. This way you can prevent (last minute) changes to the timetable.

The use of the same communication tool: older employees prefer to call, while young people prefer to send a text. This can make it difficult to collect all information on different communication platforms. Make sure all employees know which method to use when communicating about changes to the schedule. L1NDA Planner makes it easy for employees to find mutual replacements for their service. All communication remains in one place and you as an employer keep an overview.

6. Make the schedule easily accessible

Do you plan with a pen and paper? Is the schedule hanging behind the bar or on the wall in the staff room? Do employees often ask when they have to work again? Or is it possible that staff did not know that they were on the schedule and therefore did not show up? Making your schedule available online for easy access for everyone is a huge help. It’s crucial that your employees can view the timetable wherever and whenever they want. A personnel planning tool can offer the solution for this. Employees can then always check their current schedules from their mobile or computer and exchange shifts.

Wondering what else L1NDA Planner can do for you? Check out all the perks of having an easy to use personnel planner here or try it now for free.

Anna van Buuren