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Inefficiency of Spreadsheets (Ken Burgin’s Blog)

Spreadsheet columns overlaid with a red circle and a diagonal line to represent NO due to inefficiency.

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Ken Burgin’s blog has caught our attention. He described the inefficiency of using pen and paper or spreadsheets to create schedules as, “a thing of the past with some smart automation.”

We have written several blogs emphasizing these points and are glad to see that others share our philosophies!

We agree with Burgin about the importance of keeping managers, accountants, and employees happy.

Here’s our take on some of Burgin’s advice from his blog:

Put your business first

When building a schedule, you need to first decide on your coverage needs: how many labor hours are best for your business? How many labor hours are going to ensure that you provide great service without overstaffing your restaurant? (If you need help with this step, see our article on SPLH.)

  • Don’t include employee names, just decide on the allocation of hours, then estimate the cost based on hourly wages.
  • After making the roster, assign your employees to the shifts that they should work, and “fill out” the schedule.
  • Double-check to make sure that your aces are in their places! The busier the shift, the more skilled the employees working the shift should be.

Remember: letting managers and highly skilled employees (with greater seniority) slip their way into slow or easy shifts is not best for your business. You want to avoid that kind of inefficiency.

Respect your employees

A piggy bank underneath the word TURNOVER.

A good schedule is a fair schedule. Shifts that promise better tips than others should be fairly distributed across your employee pool. Likewise, late shifts and “difficult” shifts should also be fairly distributed.

Employees recognize fairness and will reward you with added productivity down the road. The opposite is also true: employees recognize a lack of fairness and will “reward” you with inefficiency and unreliability.

Favoritism will not win your business any champions among the lower ranks, so respect your employees. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’ll also save you money.

If your business can’t be flexible enough to work around simple availability and requests for time off, you are short-staffed! It is uncommon (and poor business practice) to adopt a “too bad – be here!” attitude. Employees will inevitably fail to show up for the shift or simply find another job!

Inefficiency from turnover

It’s a fact: employee turnover will cost you more than it would have to let the employee swap their shifts. Automated scheduling systems can play a major role here!

By using an online workforce scheduling system with built-in shift swapping capability, you can allow your employees to swap shifts with one another while still maintaining oversight and having the final say in who works when.

Let your employees check the schedule without needing to call the store. Online scheduling systems can handle the schedule online and let your employees swap shifts, request schedule changes, enter their availability – all without taking up your time!

Inefficiency from burnout

This tidbit should probably be in the “Be smart about it” section, but I’ll put it here anyway: Give EVERY staff member two days off EVERY week!

Several matchsticks in a row, one of which is completely burnt out.

If employees are scheduled for more than 5 days per week, they will start to burn out and their productivity will suffer. Even if you have an employee who asks for more hours and “doesn’t mind” working on days off, insist that they take 2 days off per week on a regular basis. They are putting their personal finances ahead of the business.

Let your employees have lives! Legally, employee schedules need to be posted a certain number of days in advance (this is known as predictive scheduling), and schedules that are posted 4 weeks in advance will allow your employees to hold on to whatever level of “work-life balance” that they can in the hospitality industry.

Without adequate advance notice of schedules, your turnover rate will likely be much higher than it should be.

Be smart about it

Scheduled labor costs should be viewed in conjunction with the schedule as you write it. In the past, these two areas haven’t been connected, but now it’s imperative that you know exactly how much your schedule is going to cost.

Scheduling software can easily display this information.

If your managers are bonused on good labor numbers or disciplined for bad labor numbers, they should have the appropriate tools to handle labor costs before posting the schedule.

  • Save any non-imperative hours for the busiest days (those with the highest sales). Since most schedules are written Monday to Sunday (slowest day to busiest day), if you decide to start trimming hours halfway through the week because of slow sales, you’ll be trimming weekend hours – the hours that you really need to be adequately staffed.
  • Alternatively, change how you schedule – start scheduling “Thursday to Wednesday”!

Ensure proper staffing levels. If there are just a few more staff hours available than are necessary for your coverage needs, you’re properly staffed!

Having a small cushion of available labor hours lets you call in extras when needed (without going into overtime). As your coverage and staffing needs rise and fall, cut or hire part-time employees.

TimeForge can do all of these things easily!

A pair of  smiling employees using a tablet and working in front of their notes.

Burgin’s advice is desperately needed right now in the hospitality and foodservice industries.

Luckily, TimeForge labor management makes it easy to follow Burgin’s advice. Putting together a superior schedule every week has never been easier.

  • TimeForge will increase store profits, decrease turnover, and lead to better worker disposition (and productivity).
  • You can easily build staff schedules in seconds with the TimeForge AutoScheduler™. Our scheduling software allows you to record employee availability, staff member time off requests, and incorporates those requests into the schedule automatically.
  • TimeForge Messaging allows instant communication among employees and managers. It keeps everyone on the same page. No more confusion, no more excuses.

With TimeForge, many hospitality and retail owners have learned firsthand how to correctly manage labor. Managing labor correctly will save your business money and time.

Ready to see for yourself? Get a free personalized demo or sign up for a free trial of TimeForge.

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