Need Help With Shift Schedules? Read this First!

If you manage a restaurant, you already know how important shift scheduling is. But are your shift schedules working in the best interest of your staff and entire restaurant? Given the unique demands of scheduling shifts – after all, less than half of U.S. restaurant workers are full-time employees – it helps to understand how this underrated aspect of managing your restaurant can make or break your operation.

RASI’s complete restaurant accounting services help support your shift scheduling tasks, thanks to an innovative data analytics platform that provides timely information so you can make the best possible shift schedules.

Let’s look at common types of shift schedules, creative ways of scheduling shifts, and more.

Two restaurant employees, male and female looking at tablet scheduling shifts

Most Popular Types of Shift Schedules

Think of your shift schedules as a way to improve your restaurant’s performance. It’s getting the most out of your employees, ensuring you have enough resources to handle busy periods, and ultimately, improving customer services. Here are four common types of shift schedules:

Fixed Schedules

In today’s world of part-time restaurant employees, the fixed schedule – the same employees working the same weekly hours – is less common than it used to be. Fixed shift schedules are the easiest to track, but still must work in tandem with other random scheduling. To ensure your best employees are scheduled for optimal times, we recommend regular reviews of your fixed schedules. 

On-Call Shifts

Every restaurant manager has been there; a few waiters call off, or, the main cook has to leave work early, and you’re in a pinch. With the on-call variety of scheduling shifts, employees are able to fill in at a moment’s notice – often for premium pay. Probably the most challenging type of shift schedules, on-call shifts are hopefully rare. The fewer on-call shifts you have to plan, the more reliable your employees generally are.

Overtime Shifts

Scheduling shifts sometimes requires certain employees to log over 40 hours. The key is figuring out which workers can handle the extra workload while also staying within your local jurisdiction’s compliance and labor laws. Plus, OT can negatively impact EBITA, so we suggest a thorough assessment before committing to any overtime hours. A good question to ask: do you REALLY need OT, or will regular staffing – supplemented by top-performing employees – be enough to handle the extra work?

Rotating Shifts

Given the unique requirements of each individual employee, rotating scheduling shifts are sometimes necessary. In this instance, employees switch shifts, typically on a set cadence or schedule. In this case, for example, you might have two members of your wait staff switch their breakfast and dinner shifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This extra flexibility has the double benefit of accommodating your employees’ lives outside of work, while giving your establishment the versatility to meet customer demand.


How Are Shift Schedules Created?

There are three generally accepted methods for scheduling shifts. Finding which one works for you helps ensure your operation reduces error, increases profits, and keeps your employees happy!

Pen and Paper Method

Are old-fashioned shift schedules best? For some old-school managers and shift schedulers, nothing beats this way. But it’s not recommended in today’s fast-paced environment, with so many factors to account for. Just one factor that pen & paper may not account for: employees missing shifts. 


Many restaurant managers swear by Excel, Numbers and other spreadsheets for scheduling shifts. While it’s more efficient than pen and paper, this method still doesn’t capture and integrate other information related to effective shift schedules. 

Plus, multiple spreadsheets mean a greater chance of errors. While spreadsheets promote accountability for your team, they’re still not effective as a robust, all-encompassing shift scheduling software.

Shift Scheduling Software

The best of all worlds – shift scheduling software enables seamless, automatic scheduling shifts for any type of restaurant. Best of all, you can access helpful tools and resources like compliance and overtime notifications, staff break alerts, and more!

Aside from our complete array of restaurant accounting services, we also work with a host of partners to meet the point solution needs of your restaurant. Request a demo.