Restaurant Schedule Templates and When to Use Them

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Every day that your restaurant is open, you require the right staff to be working at the right times to support the business. With both front of house and back of house workers to manage, it can be incredibly challenging to remain organized while creating schedules that meet all employee needs. If you schedule too many employees on a given day, you risk surpassing your labor budget or upsetting your wait staff. Having too few staff on hand will likely result in poor customer service.

Creating a restaurant schedule every week can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Fortunately, restaurant schedule templates can greatly assist with keeping your staff schedules efficient and organized. This, in turn, can help you control labor costs while positively impacting employee morale.

What are Restaurant Schedule Templates?

Restaurant schedule templates are tools that help simplify a work schedule by automatically including employee names, start and end times, and daily roles. With these schedule templates, you can easily communicate to your employees who is working, in what capacity, and when. Traditionally, templates were created using Excel spreadsheets and other simple methods. (For example, we provide a restaurant work schedule template for free.) These days, smart managers make use of scheduling software, which can create perfect schedules in seconds. Below, we discuss the utility of restaurant schedule templates, as well as when and how to use them.

Importance of Restaurant Schedule Templates

An employee shift template helps a restaurant manager develop a work schedule that is concise and clear. Long gone are the days of attempting to read a supervisor’s handwriting or crossing out mistakes on paper. With an Excel-based schedule, you can upload it to a website, share it via email, or print and post it in an employee common area within the restaurant. Or, if you use scheduling software, the posted schedule is always online and available to both employees and staff.

By using a template, your schedule is always simple to read so that employees are aware of their upcoming shift times and who they will be working with on each shift. This makes it easier for employees to trade shifts, which can help ensure there is adequate coverage.

When to Use Employee Schedule Templates

Use a restaurant schedule template whenever you need to set up a work schedule for your staff. If you have previously been using pen and paper, then it is time to simplify your life with a scheduling tool. If you currently use scheduling software and are still having issues, then it may be time for an upgrade.

While many templates are designed for weekly use, some allow you to easily make changes to implement semi-monthly or monthly schedules, letting you complete several weeks worth of shifts at a time. To assist with long-term planning, you can duplicate templates and populate them with dates for up to an entire years’ worth of schedules.

Knowing the schedule in advance is helpful for accommodating employee time off requests, especially around a busy holiday. The purpose of an employee schedule template is to streamline the scheduling process in whichever manner best suits your restaurant’s operation.

Benefits of Restaurant Schedule Templates

Depending on what method you use, there are some definite benefits to be gained from using restaurant schedule templates. Some affect managers, others affect staff. Let’s look at a few:


Scheduling software adapts to your business, allowing you to select the criteria you care about and distribute staff according to your labor needs. This makes the process of putting a schedule together quick and easy.

Unfortunately, Excel schedule templates do not come with these benefits, though they do allow you to manually assign shifts.


Easy access is a major benefit to using online employee schedule templates. With a scheduling software, the schedule is always there and can be accessed at any time with a computer or mobile device. It can also be printed and posted, as some managers prefer.

With Excel-based restaurant schedule templates, you can manually email out the schedule to everyone on your team, print it out, or upload it to a website. However, you do still need to let employees know if you make changes. This may mean emailing out a new version, for example, and hoping that employees don’t accidentally follow the old one.

Employee Requests

A healthy work-life balance is critical for maintaining an engaged and productive workforce. If you fail to account for employees’ needs, you run the risk of dissatisfied staff and high employee turnover. Therefore, accepting employee input is important. The right scheduling software can overcome these issues easily by supporting time off requests, shift swaps, bid shifts, and want-to-work requests.

With Excel-based schedule templates, you can still accommodate requests, you just have to do so manually. Make sure you get employees’ input ahead of time. As great as a schedule template is, it can’t help you if you forget to include workers’ requests.

Resource Allocation

Scheduling software can vastly improve the speed at which you create schedules. It can also improve the efficiency of your schedules and ensure that the right people are staffed at the right places and the right times. Using machine learning and historical sales data, scheduling software can predict your labor needs and distribute your resources accordingly in minutes.

A manager using an Excel-based restaurant schedule template, on the other hand, is likely to spend hours each week trying to accomplish the same goal. Managers are also off the mark 11-16% of the time, whereas a good scheduling software is right 98.7% of the time. Something to keep in mind.

Tips for Creating an Great Employee Schedule

By now, you should have a good idea of the benefits of using restaurant schedule templates. Here are a few tips on how to create great employee schedules:

Create and Post Schedules in Advance

Studies show that employees are more productive and engaged when they have predictable work schedules. With a restaurant schedule template, it’s easy to craft and post a schedule in advance. This is especially true with scheduling software, which can help you post schedules 2, 3, even 4 weeks in advance. In certain states and localities, some employers are required by law to post schedules in advance or face heavy penalties. A smart scheduling software can ensure you avoid the 3 stages of labor law noncompliance.

In contrast, an Excel-based restaurant schedule will not warn you when you’re in danger of scheduling overtime or “clopens”“. It also can’t track labor compliance for you.

Utilize Technology

As mentioned previously, scheduling software can improve the efficiency of your schedules and ensure adequate coverage. It can take into account things like time off requests or want-to-work requests. Software can also handle shift swaps and enforce schedules, so that you can control your biggest controllable expense: labor. Unfortunately, Excel-based schedule templates won’t help you here, though they can save you a few minutes and ensure your schedule is readable.

Check out our post on restaurant scheduling – Zaxby’s case study.

Increase Staff During the Holidays

An increase in guests for a New Year’s Eve party or an Easter brunch is great, but if you lack the staff to accommodate bigger groups on those days, patrons are unlikely to return. This is generally referred to in the industry as “understaffing.” On the other hand, if you schedule more staff than required, you are spending more on labor than necessary. You’re “overstaffing.”

Instead, try and determine the sweet spot. By using historical sales data to forecast holiday labor, you can schedule the right staff levels before each holiday. The right scheduling software can do this; Excel-based schedule templates can’t.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

An easy way to improve your schedules is to keep certain things consistent. Standardize the start and end times for work shifts so employees become accustomed to consistency in their schedules. This will also eliminate extra work for you. When you begin with a standard schedule as the basis, it is simple to make small adjustments when employees request time off, for example.

Employee scheduling software allows you to enter start and end times, both for each shift and for the workday itself. It also won’t schedule people who have taken time off, so you never have to worry about that.

Request Employee Input

Ask your employees for their opinions on how you can make scheduling easier and better for everyone. Workers are sure to have things they have noticed but might be hesitant to bring up without prompting.

In some cities and states, fair workweek laws actually require employers to accept employee input. This means giving employees a way to request time off or to indicate when they’re available or want to work. The right scheduling software can do all of these things.

How to Manage Scheduling Issues

Providing employees with an easy way to make time off requests is a great way to prevent scheduling problems before the schedule has been created and shared with the team. However, sometimes there are unavoidable last-minute issues that require quick responses from management even after the schedule is posted. This is especially true during COVID-19. What’s the best way to deal with sudden changes?

If an emergency prevents a team member from making it to a shift, that employee must contact the manager on-duty as soon as possible. The manager is then responsible for finding a replacement. A scheduling tool with communication features can make it easy to find an eligible replacement and call them straight from a smart phone. If you’re in a state with fair workweek laws, TimeForge is the only software out there that will automatically compensate an employee for last minute changes, overtime, “clopens,” or lack of meal or rest breaks.

Creating a restaurant schedule can be challenging work; you must ensure all employees are satisfied while guaranteeing the right level of labor coverage. An Excel-based restaurant schedule template can help, but it doesn’t come with nearly as many benefits as an online scheduling solution. At TimeForge, we provide scheduling software that enables easy bid shifts, shift swaps, auto schedules, and more. Our software can help streamline your scheduling and keep you compliant with labor laws.

For more tips on managing a restaurant, check out our Restaurant Management eBook.

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