Restaurant work is hard work. It can be exhausting—both physically and mentally—and team member exhaustion can hurt customer service, operations efficiency, and employee retention. It’s important as a manager to keep your team from burning out.
Here are some ways to help avoid overworking your employees.
Monitor switches & picked up shifts
Unlike most jobs, restaurant work isn’t a strict 5-day-a-week timeline. Schedules are flexible, and most managers allow staff members to switch shifts and find people to cover for them. This delegation eliminates an unnecessary barrier and helps keep the restaurant staffed at the correct number.
But a manager should keep track of the switches and make sure that the same employee isn’t working too many shifts. You may schedule an employee two days on, 1 day off and then another 2 days on to ensure that have enough of a break. But as restaurant employees are consistently switching shifts or picking up shifts it's up to you and your managers to make sure they're not sacrificing their well being for extra shifts. It's less about not wanting to pay overtime, but more about making sure the employee isn't burnt out!
Use numbers to estimate
Restaurants margins can be hard to predict; especially when holidays can create a rush. A Sunday night football game could fill a pub. A kids dance competition could spark a lunch rush. There’s no way to predict the exact amount of employees you’ll need. There’s too many factors.
However, you can get a rough estimate of what you should be expected. By tracking reservations and viewing last year's forecasted sales based on an average of time-of-day, day-of-the-week, and season, you can predict how many people will need to be served and how many staff members you’ll need to make it happen. It'll also help you plan your labor; and make sure that you can avoid understaffing (and overstaffing) the schedule.
Avoid “clopening” shifts
An employee should never open and close the restaurant in the same day. No matter the breaks, no matter the workload, no matter the industry. Some states and provinces have laws in place to ensure that this does not happen. Working in customer service can be draining. As a manager or owner, it's your responsibility to make sure that you're able to staff your restaurant without sacrificing employee's physical and mental well-being!
Provide proper training
You need to foster a work culture that promotes teamwork: each individual needs to perform complete their role to the best of their ability, support others, and pick up any potential lack. Hosting a weekly or monthly staff meeting can help refresh the staff on role responsibilities and keep your staff from repeating unnecessary work or continuing to make simple mistakes. Constantly training your staff can help them grow and keep your staff working together.
Employees need breaks. Whether it’s a five minute or a quick 10-15 minute snack, employees need to get off their feet and take some time for themselves. Managers should set up reminders for their staff and make sure they feel comfortable taking the break. Speaking of managers—you need a break to! And not just for your own sanity but to encourage the behavior with the staff; the best way to get your staff to do something is to do it yourself. Creating a culture of self-care is a great way to empower employees to take care of themselves and adjust when they feel overworked.
Check in, a lot
The best way to figure out how to help avoid overworking your employees? Ask them what’s stressing them out. Ask for feedback (“is there anything I can be doing better to support you?”). Check-in and see if they’re overwhelmed. For example, if a waitress is handling a tough customer, rather than assuming she’s okay, ask if she needs anything (a break? tactical support on the floor? a safe person to vent to? ). Communication can get you straight to the solution.