Blog, Operational efficiency

The holidays can be an extremely stressful and chaotic time at QSRs.

In my more than 30 years of experience as a restaurant leader, I’ve seen employee morale worsen, staff quitting without notice, cashiers walking off their shift, and even loyal team members making the conscious decision to steal. Why? Because team members can feel short-handed, especially if they’re working longer hours with little-to-no advanced notice.

Better restaurant employee scheduling can help reduce a team’s stress and set them up for a successful holiday season.

Below are 8 restaurant employee scheduling lessons I’ve learned that helped me – and my team – thrive during the holidays and busy times of year.

1. Start scheduling early

Restaurant manager hangs up employee schedule

Post your schedule at least 6 or 7 days in advance.






2. Pay attention to the time-frame you are scheduling for

A wrapped gift sits atop a marked calendar

Use information from previous years to help schedule. The day before and after Thanksgiving are often big misses because insights from previous years have been overlooked. I used Delaget’s web-based reporting solution to pull sales from prior years which helped me have a more accurate schedule.




3. Post the holiday hours of operations early and explain process for time off

A brown billfold is exposed within the back pocket of a pair of jeans

Back in my schedule writing days, I carried a pocket calendar and the team knew that all requests came directly to me. No notes, no calendar, no book. I could address the scheduling/availability conflict right then and there.





4. Be fair in your scheduling

Two restaurant employees smiling while at work

As the store leader or RGM, it is absolutely not fair that you take every holiday off or schedule yourself for a routine 8 AM to 5 PM workday. When I was an above store leader, I scheduled myself on New Year’s Eve and took New Year’s Day off to watch football. My teams always loved that I was a team player and came in on an important holiday so that they could have time with their families.




5. Schedule enough of your aces for key times.

Two employees look over their work schedule while at work

Putting newer and inexperienced employees on the holidays and weekends isn’t fair to the manager, the team, and certainly not the guests! This is often why we see inflated SWS numbers and poor customer scores for these days and dayparts.





6. Schedule shorter cashier shifts (4 to 6 hours is good) to keep cashiers fresh and isolate the time period their cash is handled

A restaurant cashier accepts a cash transaction

Stagger cashier shifts to allow for the proper pre- and post-banking procedures to be followed.






7. Put a copy of the weekly schedule in the hand of every manager-in-charge for the week

A waitress smiling in front of a busy restaurant

As a check-and-balance, have them review the schedule and deployment for their shifts in advance.





Two restaurant employees work together in the kitchen

8. Get feedback

Scheduling shouldn’t be done alone. Gather feedback from your team on how the schedule is working and what adjustments can be made for better execution and a better customer experience.





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