Revel Blog

Best Practices for Staff Scheduling in Restaurants

Sarah Vancini | June 2, 2022 |

Best Practices for Staff Scheduling in Restaurants

Why Staff Scheduling is Important 

Staffing is important for all restaurants, but especially for large fast casual restaurants who have seen exceptional growth this past year.

Understaffed restaurants create stress for employees and impact customer service and hospitality. 

Overstaffing increases your labor costs, and can leave employees bored while making less in tips.

A clear and cohesive staff schedule establishes just the right amount of personnel-power for your restaurant at any given time. This allows your restaurant to run smoothly and for employees to work efficiently. 

Why Staff Scheduling is Difficult 

There are a number of reasons why staff scheduling is so difficult in the restaurant industry.

  • Running a restaurant leaves managers juggling different employee incentives.

Front-of-house servers want shifts that bring in the most tips. Back-of-house cooks need to be comfortable at their assigned stations. Everyone needs time off, sick days and flexibility for emergency situations. Balancing all these needs while making accommodations for unforeseen circumstances makes the task of creating a staff schedule time-consuming and daunting.

  • It’s likely you are not your team's only employer. 

Only 44% of employees work full-time in restaurants. This means managers must work around multiple shift schedules for your employees’ other jobs.

  • Restaurants tend to have high turnover rates.

In 2019 the average turnover rate in restaurants was 81.9%. This has led to challenges with finding, hiring and training new employees, and finding time in the schedule to do all these activities.

How scheduling could be impacting your bottom line.

Tips for Staff Scheduling

By following these tips your restaurant schedule will seamlessly align the necessary number of staff to the number of expected guests in the restaurant at that time. When implementing each of these strategies, make sure that your operations are supported by a robust tech stack. 

Primarily, you should be using a centralized point of sale (POS) platform that can track important metrics and supports integrations to help you build out employee schedules automatically.

Opt for Monthly Rather than Weekly Schedules

Legally, organizations with shift workers must provide employees with their schedules up to two weeks in advance. Most restaurants post schedules according to this minimum requirement.

It is much more effective to move from 26 schedules a year to just 12.

Having clear monthly schedules helps hourly employees plan their lives outside of their job. This includes:

  • Finding child care
  • Holding a second job
  • Taking continuing education classes
  • And more!
Although having bi-weekly schedules allows for last minute-changes and seems to offer more flexibility, when using monthly schedules there are other tools you can implement to create even more agility (see more below).

Collect Data to Inform Scheduling Decisions

Be sure you are storing and organizing:

  • Previous schedules
  • Team member availability
  • Employee requests
  • Sales forecasts
  • Local event calendar
  • Revenue
  • Labor costs

As you sit down to make the next schedule, use your collected data to create it. For example, you can note:

  • The best shifts to schedule training
  • Availability for trainers to work with new team members
  • Impact of weather events (like rain) on sales
  • Number of changes needed last month
  • Accuracy of sales forecasts this year
  • Effectiveness of coverage 
  • Correlation between team members’ clock-outs and scheduled shifts
  • Your busiest shifts and days
  • Your slowest shifts and days
  • Top performing servers

As well, this data can help you create an efficient system for granting time off requests and other business decisions.

Pretty waitresses working with a smile at the coffee shopCollecting all this information and analyzing is a full-time job in and of itself. To help you automatically gather data and easily derive scheduling insights from it, make sure your tech stack includes a robust POS technology.

Be Lean And Consistent with Posting

To allow for optimal communication between management and staff be sure to:

  • Post your schedule in the same places, both printed and virtual copies 
  • Publish the schedule at the same time each time
  • Make sure employees have the tools to make time off requests on their own
  • Designate a deadline for staff to update their availability
  • Get time off requests as soon as possible

Make sure the pertinent information for the schedule is obvious. Your employees should be able to read the schedule within 30 seconds. Do not clutter your calendar with too much information. To do this, limit information in the schedule to:

  • Day
  • Hours
  • Job
  • Employee Names

Empower Your Team to Weigh In on Scheduling

Ask team members their opinions on management’s scheduling process. You can gauge how your system impacts employee satisfaction and retention as well as gather innovative new ideas to increase efficiency further.

Employee’s often have very different opinions as to the effectiveness of schedules. Recording soft data on these topics is important.

If staff are dissatisfied with the current way shifts are run and there seems to be no obvious solution try using:

  • Open shifts: Publish your schedule with a few unassigned shifts and give your staff a time frame in which they can sign up for them.
  • Set shifts: All employees have a firm schedule that rarely changes.
  • Scheduled side work: Book employees for shorter shifts devoted to side work, administrative work, or chores.
  • Cross Training: Try training line cooks to work every station. Make sure servers can bartend and that bartenders can serve, for example.

Use restaurant scheduling software

Restaurant schedule software can be incredibly helpful in building a great staff schedule for your team and implementing the above practices.

In fact, 95% of restaurant owners agree that technology improves the efficiency of their restaurants. Learn more about how POS systems are streamlining operations.

Technology allows for simple and paperless scheduling.


With cloud-native tech platforms like Revel Systems® and the many available integrations that come with them, managers can:

  • Edit staffing levels in real time
  • Get automatic notifications of conflicts and have suggested changes
  • Make schedules available to employees in the cloud so they can access it anytime from anywhere
  • Send reminder notifications to employees about their shifts
  • Communicate directly with employees or groups of employees instantly
  • Track and report key workforce metrics
  • Export data to streamline payroll
  • Organize team work hours with built in time clocks and attendance tools
  • Create easy-to-use task lists

How to Start Optimizing Your Staff Schedule 

The core for each of the five steps to scheduling success is collecting data and using it to inform your planning. With managers busy operating restaurants and no further bandwidth from other employees to analyze and gather this data it’s important to leverage technologies that do this automatically as a first step.

Collecting all this information and analyzing is a full-time job in and of itself. To help you automatically gather data and easily derive scheduling insights from it, make sure your tech stack includes a robust POS platform like Revel!