Ned Stark perfectly sums up the feeling of the embarking holiday season for hospitality employees. As much as the holiday season is festive and fun, it can be stressful for those in the restaurant industry. There is an influx of diners, which results in the need for more staffing among a multitude of other responsibilities. Restaurant managers and owners are tasked with the juggling demands for more hours and satisfying time off requests whilst still trying to keep a lid on the everyday function of their establishment. To try and lessen the stressful load, here are some 3 major tips on managing staff during the holidays:
Be prepared to hire seasonal staff, but don’t go on a hiring spree. The hardest part of seasonal hiring isn’t finding employees, rather its finding the right kind of employee. Train them properly, and hire the right amount of people. The quality of seasonal employee you have on retainer; is dependent on the training you provide them. Maintain a standard of service for existing employees and new hires to ensure consistent quality service. Who knows, you might consider hiring your seasonal employees permanently!
Use your labour and sales reports from previous years to help determine the busiest times. They are a huge asset in forecasting labour budgets and sales costs as well. Scheduling too little employees will create chaos, and scheduling too many will eat into your profits. Refrain from scheduling the same employee back to back closing and opening shifts. Grumpy and tired staff will equate to poor service.
Check in with your existing staff to establish what kind of hours they’re looking for. Often, the holidays are the time where existing part-time staff are looking for more hours, which can cover the shifts requested off. Make note of the employees who want more hours, or wish to book days off to avoid potential scheduling issues.
Be Flexible (As You Possibly Can)
Honesty is the best policy, and its your responsibility to be upfront about employees requesting time off. If you know there are dates that you cannot accommodate, used black out dates (far in advance) to prevent staff from asking for that time off. Set clear expectations for time off requests, to prevent confusion between staff and management. If possible, make public announcements to all staff to ensure equal opportunity for all, but do not guarantee any requests.
Make sure you notify seasonal staff prior to hiring them, and existing staff ahead of the holiday rush. Plan on making holiday schedules a month in advance, but be sure to let you employees know. Staff will appreciate the notice sooner rather than later. Making the schedule in advance allows you to make quick changes on the go, rather than rushing and having to make constant changes right after finishing.
Ask staff to submit time off requests a month in advance, so you can try your best to accommodate them. But you have to firm about how they are requests, not guarantees. Accommodate what you can, but be firm about how requests for days off are still requests. Make sure that staff understand and ensure that you are doing what you can to make the schedule work for everyone.
Spread the Holiday Cheer!
Get ready for the holiday season with a team dinner, or congratulate your staff for making it through the holiday season. It allows your staff, and yourself, the opportunity to de-stress. Hosting a holiday party also allows you as a business owner to show appreciation to your staff, whilst fostering a positive work environment.
Generally, staff who feel valued are going to want to do a good job. The more understanding you are of your staffs’ well being will likely contribute to a better work environment and camaraderie. Requesting time off during the holiday season can be frustrating, but as a manager you have to make it easy for all staff. Remember your staff are humans and not robots, and they have lives outside of work.