scheduling is a painScheduling is a pain!

Anyone who has ever been in charge of a restaurant schedule knows how painful it is. There are many pressures including anticipating business volume, employee expectations and requests for time off.

The next scheduling pressure point is going to come from politicians. Yes you heard me. Politicians are interested in how you schedule your employees. See this article on the “Fair” Workweek Act that was being proposed in Albuquerque. Some politicians believe employees should know with certainty when they are going to be required to work. Many cities have passed extensive scheduling laws requiring businesses to post schedules 21 days in advance. Any changes to the schedule are penalized with higher labor costs.

People enjoy working in the restaurant industry for many reasons. The advantage of part-time work with flexible scheduling is certainly a big reason. Many employees PREFER the flexibility of being able to find substitutes on their own if emergency or sickness arises. This allows them the autonomy to switch shifts so that they can still take care of customers without losing hours.

Politicians don’t see it this way.

They see workers getting their schedules on a Sunday for work scheduled the next day. Politicians believe this is unfair because the employee can’t make plans. What they don’t realize is that very same employee got his request for time off to you on Saturday making it difficult for you to find a replacement to get the schedule out earlier.

I heard one legislator, Bill McCamley, Chair of the NM House Labor Committee; tell of an example when he worked his first job at a grocery store and the schedule would come out one day prior to implementation. He saw this as unfair to the employees and he’s not alone. This is a union supported issue that is not going away.

I’m not going to pass judgement on whether or not short scheduling is unfair. I’ve been on both sides and I certainly understand how difficult it is to schedule 40 people for work.

Possible solutions…

Towards the end of my restaurant career running and managing three restaurants with a total of 150 employees, I came upon a way to schedule that saved me time, headaches and gave my employees some certainty. I scheduled for an entire semester. I had restaurants in a college town so that was necessary as peoples class schedules changed my restaurant schedule had to change as well. I would give people shifts for which they were responsible for an entire semester, taking into account seniority, ability and usual business volume. If they could not work their shift they were responsible to cover it with management approval. If business volume increased, say a large catering came up suddenly, I gave additional shifts to people who expressed an interest in making more money.

I know it’s difficult and you have reasons why you can’t do something similar. But I am warning you that politicians have a different idea of how you are “taking advantage” of your employees and they will come up with a solution that does NOT work in the restaurant industry if we do not come up with our own.

There are also great technological solutions that solve this problem in even more creative ways. is just one of these technological solutions.

A great resource is HotSchedules quick guide “How to Optimize Your Labor and Control Costs”.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association (NMRA) Can Help

NMRA is here to help all restaurants new and old, big and small. You play a special role in the New Mexico economy, and NMRA is here to help you succeed. Join today or contact NMRA to learn more.