Solutions to Common Hospitality Scheduling Problems

Hotel managers have a great deal of responsibility throughout the day, and one of the most complicated duties they have is creating employee shift schedules. Even the smallest of scheduling errors can increase labor costs, so it’s best to do everything possible to avoid mistakes altogether. Unfortunately, most managers don’t have tools at their disposal to help them achieve this.

There is no doubt about it – staff scheduling can be an absolute nightmare. Not only do managers have to worry about optimization of the schedule, but also high turnover, shift swapping, and no-shows.

While you may be tempted to invest in a solution for scheduling, it is first essential to determine what the most common employee scheduling issues are. Once you can determine the root cause, you are better suited for solution implementation.

Manager creating employee schedules using spreadsheet software.

Before the advent of work schedule software, many businesses used spreadsheets to create employee schedules. Today, using such a method is not cost-effective and can lead to many scheduling errors.

Problem: Using a Spreadsheet

Using a spreadsheet to handle team member staffing can lead to errors and cause you to miss out on essential scheduling factors. For example, when using a spreadsheet, managers are not able to easily see when a full-time employee has requested time off or if they have a particular skill set for a job.

As a result, your scheduling managers may create an entire weeks or months schedule only to have to go back and make schedule changes. Not only does this method increase the potential for errors, but it also can take a great deal of time away from other important responsibilities as well as increase labor costs.

Problem: Insufficient Communication

Many hotel managers find the process of simply alerting staff members of when they’re going to work to be time-consuming.

This method can lead to phone lines being tied up and can result in customers being neglected. All of this can happen because managers are spending precious time trying to let their employees know about their coming timetables. Not only can it lead to issues with customers, but it can also reduce flexible scheduling.

While this may sound extreme, it is a scenario that often plays out in the hotel and other service industries. Employee and manager communication is often an inefficient process and can lead to numerous amount of shift scheduling errors.

Solution: Invest in Hospitality Employee Scheduling Software

Rather than using an outdated scheduling method, you can invest in scheduling software and altogether avoid many of the problems mentioned above. A recent survey found that approximately 60% of the hospitality industry uses some form of human resources software. This tells us that a majority of businesses understand the issues that come along with spreadsheet scheduling and have opted for better time and attendance managing software.

By using hourly employee scheduling software, managers can easily see who has time off, when you don’t have enough employees for an upcoming shift, and when you have an absence of someone scheduled with the skillset required for a job.

Not only can you ensure your shifts are being created without understaffing or overscheduling, but you can also empower your employees by giving them online access to their schedules. Thanks to online solutions, such as Buddy Punch, employees don’t have to call in to find out when they’re working. Instead, they can just log in to their account to check their schedule. They can also request open shifts or engage in shift swapping if you grant them permissions.

In addition to these features, employees can also put in requests for PTO so that management can schedule them accordingly. They can also check their PTO balance without having to track down a manager for the information.

Two guests walking into a hotel during busy months of the year.

The hospitality industry is constantly adjusting for seasonal highs and lows or special events in real-time – and your employee’s schedules must adjust as well. Rather than creating the same schedule each week, schedule employees based on the need or demand of your business.

Problem: Creating Fixed Schedules

If you are scheduling the same employees at the same time every day, you’re going to run into trouble. The hotel industry is variable, and your employee’s schedules have to reflect this. For example, you may operate in an area that relies on tourism in the Fall and has an influx of customers during this time but experiences a lull in the Winter.

Having the same number of people working each day is not efficient. You must schedule your employees based on the variables that impact your particular place of work. Not only can scheduling the same amount of employees each day impact your labor costs, but it can also result in reduced customer experience on busier days.

Solution: Use Predictive Scheduling

As mentioned, you must schedule based on the needs of your hotel. You can use predictive scheduling to streamline workforce management, ensuring you will have the right amount of employees needed during busier times of the week, month, or even year. You can reduce your labor costs by scheduling the least amount of employees needed during slower times.

Not only does predictive scheduling help you save on labor costs, but it also allows employees to better plan their personal lives. If they know the busy season is coming up, they’ll be able to find childcare in advance or plan a vacation during slower times.

Problem: No Contingency Plan

Your employees are inevitably going to take a vacation. You may have employees that quit or call in sick. When such situations appear, and you don’t have a contingency plan in place, serious issues can arise.

Solution: Understand Employee Availability

Rather than waiting until the last minute to frantically try to find someone to work, you should know each employee’s availability so you can fill a shift as quickly as possible. Whenever a new employee is hired, as part of their onboarding, have them fill out an employee availability form and keep this information on hand when creating a schedule.

Employee and employer reviewing schedule together to ensure accuracy.

Schedules are often created with minimal input from employees. By collaborating with employees when it comes to schedule creation, you can create a schedule that is beneficial to both the employer and employee.

Problem: Minimal Employee Input

For many managers in any business, scheduling is often done with very little information. It is typically limited to availability and time-off requests. However, you must factor in childcare needs, personal appointments, and social events that can suddenly come up.

Solution: Collaborative Scheduling

Collaborative scheduling is a great way to ensure that personal factors are considered when creating shifts. Employees can inform their manager of upcoming personal time off and allow them to find a suitable replacement. This method requires employees and their manager to work together to ensure both come out okay. Not only does this improve the scheduling process, but improves the employee-employer relationship.

By collaborating together on shift creation, many scheduling conflicts and mistakes can be avoided.

Problem: High Labor Costs

In the hotel industry, employees often have different pay rates and availabilities. When you have a lot of employees, it is easy for managers to accidentally schedule those with very high labor costs. If these employees work overtime, those labor costs are double and even tripled.

Solution: Use Time and Attendance Software

Overtime is relatively easy to manage, but the challenge is keeping all employee overtime information straight. By using time and attendance software, this is no longer an issue. All employee information, whether regular hours worked or overtime, is kept neatly together and is available for you to reference whenever needed.

By using the best timesheet app available employe information is organized and makes keeping labor costs down much easier for scheduling managers.

Manage Hospitality Scheduling More Efficiently

Scheduling doesn’t always have to be a challenge. In fact, with the right software and processes in place, it can be quite straightforward. Increased efficiency can significantly reduce the potential for mistakes. As mentioned, scheduling mistakes can be very costly, but with the right methods in place, can be easily avoided.

If you are ready to improve the efficiency of scheduling at your place of work, then scheduling software is a smart option. There are a lot of different types of scheduling software available, and the features offered are vast. So find the best scheduling software to meet the needs of your business – your employees and your bank will be appreciative.

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