To prosper in the restaurant industry, you can’t manage your workforce like you did ten years ago. Savvy owners are using powerful workforce management software to gain the competitive edge. If you haven’t jumped on board, you are making things harder for yourself. You may not be aware of the industry changes that are affecting you.
Changing Dynamics in Restaurant Staffing
Workforce management systems help you navigate a business landscape that is changing rapidly. They help you tackle the most common obstacles to success. Why is workforce management so important? The top challenges all involve your workforce.
Let’s examine the key workforce trends. Most affect small to mid-size businesses in general. Some impact the restaurant industry in particular.
Smaller Hiring Pool
Having trouble finding good employees? You aren’t alone. The labor pool is getting smaller. The good news is that it’s a sign of an improving economy. The bad news is that employers have to compete with everyone else in town to round out their staff.
In 2017, the National Restaurant Association reported on the pressing challenges. They cited recruitment and retention as having the most impact.
Changing Workforce Demographics
Young people entering the workforce used to start in the foodservice industry. This is becoming less common. Restaurant owners need to attract older workers. More people over age thirty are seeking restaurant employment. You can use this to your advantage. Older candidates may be more likely to seek a full-time position. They also tend to stick with an employer longer than students who will move on after graduation.
Engaging employees in their forties and fifties requires a different approach. The incentives that attract young part-timers won’t necessarily work with older workers. Employers who understand this can adapt with benefits and perks tailored to an older demographic. WFM employee scheduling tools help managers support the work/life balance of a mature staff.
Employee Retention More Difficult
A shrinking pool of potential employees is bad enough. Even if you overcome this hurdle and fill your vacant spots, you are not in the clear. Because it is an employee’s market, workers can pick and choose. A history of job hopping used to be a black mark on a resume. It is not a deal breaker anymore for many restaurant owners. That means employees are not as afraid to quit after two months for a better offer.
Workforce management software that handles tip allocation is important. To fill vacant kitchen positions, you can’t have a large pay disparity between front-of-house and kitchen staff. Tip pooling shifts some of the servers’ tips to back-of-house workers. There are laws that govern tip pooling, however. WFM software helps you track tips accurately and follow pooling regulations.
It’s All About Employee Scheduling
Restaurant employee scheduling may affect recruitment and retention more than pay rate. Use best practices to increase engagement and loyalty. Employee scheduling software makes it easy. You may have to completely revamp your scheduling to stay competitive.
Post Your Schedules Far in Advance
If you make schedules available two weeks or more in advance, it improves staff morale. Having ample time to arrange personal activities makes life easier for your employees.
You can probably have most shifts in place a month in advance. Especially if you have some personnel with a set schedule. Even if you have to tweak here and there, it will serve your staff far better. Posting a schedule just days before the first shift is hard on employees. Especially those that work varying shifts week to week. For many employees, this “just in time” scheduling is not sustainable over the long haul. Employee scheduling tools are just as important as time and attendance.
You may already be subject to a fair scheduling law. If not, you probably will eventually. If you already use fair workweek practices, you won’t have a staffing disruption when you are legally obligated. Besides, you want to support your staff’s work/life balance. Employee scheduling software simplifies fair scheduling compliance. It’s good for your employees, your managers, and your customers.
Online Shift Trading Board
The restaurant industry is trending toward more employee schedule control. Some wary restaurant owners relax shift trading policies on a trial basis. Many discover that it works better than they thought it would. Employees appreciate this perk and few will abuse it. It also relieves hours of work for managers. They won’t miss constant employee discontent with shift allocation.
A virtual trade board lets the employees swap shifts. Everyone can monitor the board on their mobile WFM app. They post and bid on shifts. Managers can oversee and approve the trades. The scheduling software prevents coverage gaps and overstaffing. If you haven’t used a virtual shift exchange, you ought to look into it. It may become your most valuable tool for employee satisfaction and retention.
Customize WFM Scheduling Software
Are you convinced that you need a workforce management system in your restaurant? Be sure you do your homework and get one with all the tools you need to respond to the new staffing landscape. When you choose one, undergo thorough training. Pay special attention to the features that let you set rules for your staffing logistics. Customize your restaurant scheduling software for the utmost effectiveness. Use job codes to track certifications like food handlers’ permits. Set alerts for expiration dates. Create templates for “best-fit” teams. Consult your managers who have institutional knowledge that has never been documented. This way, you can get the most out of your workforce management and employee scheduling software.
Workforce Management For Better Restaurant Training
Speaking of training, some workforce management systems have tools for employee job training. A well-designed formal training program increases employee engagement. Competent employees are more satisfied with their jobs. They are less likely to quit in frustration. Top notch training also creates a better guest experience. Well-trained employees give better service. A high level of competency breeds confidence and team unity.
Despite critical staffing challenges, there is good news for the industry. Americans are eating out more. They are also purchasing takeout meals and having them delivered to their homes or workplaces. The restaurant industries’ share of the consumer food dollar has almost doubled since 1955. Experts believe this trend will continue. Owners who use workforce management software to attract and retain employees can claim their share of the pie. (I couldn’t resist a food reference.)
Visit SwipeClock to learn more about Workforce Management for the Food and Beverage industry.
By Liz Strikwerda
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