By Ryan Fyfe
The advent of online scheduling software has been a game-changer for just about every service industry, especially the restaurant business. The time-saving element alone is enough to make purchasing such software an easy decision as far as return on investment is concerned.
However, not many talk about the advantages of scheduling software for the restaurant employees. If you’ve been in the business for a while, think back to five or 10 years ago and how schedules were being put together and distributed back then. You were probably e-mailing your employees with links to Excel sheets.
Worst case scenario, you were using pen and paper to put together the schedules and contacting each employee by phone to give them their work schedules and notify them of shift changes on the fly.
We’ve come a long way since then, and if you haven’t made the switch to scheduling software yet, here’s why you probably should.
The convenience factor
With scheduling software, employees can take their work schedule with them wherever they go. And we’re not talking about a crumpled piece of paper. Most scheduling software providers offer mobile apps along with browser-based schedule views.
Best of all, employees always see the latest version of their schedule in real time. No more guessing, no more doubting. And every time a manager updates or changes a schedule, a notification arrives on the employee’s phone.
Scheduling software provides absolute clarity for both the staff and managers — what you see is what you get. Are you tired of gossip about who is coming in late, taking extra long breaks or leaving early? Most scheduling software has time and attendance monitoring options to let managers run a tighter ship. Managers can easily monitor tardiness and absences, giving them accurate and current data. No more pointing fingers, no more “he-said, she-said” rumours — the playing field is leveled for all employees.
The advantages of clarity in the restaurant become very obvious, very quickly. It helps create a workplace atmosphere that’s based on fairness and equality, letting the most reliable employees shine and get their due.
Most scheduling software today includes more than just scheduling options. While that’s still the No. 1 feature restaurants are looking for, many of these applications offer complementary business tools, like messaging systems.
If used to their full potential, these scheduling applications can double as a work-centric social network. Employees who might want to trade shifts or ask for a cover can do so through their online scheduling application. The bigger idea behind scheduling software is opening the channels of communication and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Boosting employee independence
One of the things managers love most about scheduling applications is they give employees the ability to almost manage themselves. Employees can request time off, shift trades or drops, and all the manager has to do is approve or deny the request. This frees managers from having to deal with the most tedious parts of running a restaurant, giving them added time to focus more on the most important and complex aspects of the job.
While the draw for managers is clear, employees appreciate being able to make work-related requests on their own, and feel more trusted and respected as a result.
Keeping employees in the loop
It happens to even the best employees: They miss a shift because they didn’t see hear message about it on their voicemail or the email went to their spam folder. They simply didn’t get the memo. But with online scheduling software, these types of missed communications are all but impossible.
Employees get a push notification every time a shift has been published or altered. They’ll probably get an email as well, depending on their notification preferences. And even if employees don’t have a smartphone, most workforce management apps send SMS/text messages as well.
Turning managers into leaders
With more time to focus on running the restaurant instead of managing employee shifts for hours on end, employees get a more proactive, hands-on manager. With more time to focus on what’s important, managers can become mentors instead of just being “the boss.”
All in all, employee scheduling software is about efficiency and being able to focus on work instead of trying to find out when you work. It helps both managers and employees direct their efforts to what’s most important — keeping your customers happy.
About the author
Ryan Fyfe is the founder and CEO of ShiftPlanning.com, a leading web-based workforce management software company. The software provides web-based scheduling, time and attendance, training and other HR solutions for more than 20,000 clients in over 120 countries worldwide, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.