3 tips for Working With a Skeleton Crew During Spring Break Requests Off

Mar 2, 2016 5:07:13 PM / by Matt Thompson

It’s that time of year again for college students and other 20-year-olds to flock to the beach for a spring break getaway. While the vacation of partying and letting loose is a blast for your younger wait staff, dealing with a skeleton crew during the popular spring break period can quickly become a headache. Here are three tips from the experienced ShiftNote crew on handling the skeleton staffing issue during spring break.

Ask for Scheduling Volunteers

While a portion of your staff may be gone for a week here or there throughout March, there will be waiters and waitresses that aren’t going anywhere. Ask for availability earlier and get an idea of how many people in your staff will be gone and when. Then ask the wait staff that will be around if they want to pick up extra shifts.

This tactic is better than scheduling your remaining staff as much as you can. There will be some staff members that want the opportunity for extra hours while others will only want an extra shift here or there. Open communication with your staff will not only make your scheduling easier but will also make your employees happier.

A bonus tip: ask the staff that are going to be gone for spring break if they want some extra shifts before the week before they leave and the week they are back to work. This could help with gaps in scheduling if half your staff goes to the beach the first week of March and the other half goes the third week, for example. Knowing this information might also be helpful if you have a staff that is reluctant to cover extra shifts while others are on spring break. Make a compromise to give them more time off the weeks around spring break if they work a little more here and there.

Encourage Trade Time Arrangements

To take some of the scheduling pressure off your shoulders, encourage employees who are jetting off to the beach for spring break to arrange trade time on their own as a first step. Having your staff work out scheduling themselves is easier for everyone. Not only do you get to avoid spending time pouring over scheduling calendars, but also staff members get to arrange a scheduling situation that works best for them. All of this without causing you to lose large amount of coverage.

Coach Remaining Staff on Importance of Pitching In

Even with all of your scheduling strategies and maneuvers, chances are you are going to have a few shifts that are lighter than you would like. This is where the concept of “training never stops” comes into play. Hold a special reminder training session on the importance of pitching in when shifts are light and crowds are heavy. While every waiter should stick to table assignments, members of the staff should jump in when they see customers trying to signal for their waiter or when food is ready to go out. Likewise, all members of the staff should jump in different roles when they can. This includes set-up and clean-up duties, from wiping tables to washing dishes. Working together to make a memorable customer experience will result in happier customers, better tips, and greater retention when there is a full staff in place.

Tags: Employee Scheduling, Shift Management, Tips & Ideas

Matt Thompson

Written by Matt Thompson

Matt has let his lifelong passion of food and people lead him to 15 amazing years as a restaurant manager and another 9 years working as a Director with a major food service distributor. He has channeled this passion to help create and run ShiftNote. When he's not dominating the food service industry, he's spending time with his 4 children and cheering on the Tigers as a Mizzou Alumni.

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