Anatomy of a Job Benefit: 5 Steps for Flexible Schedules
Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT
Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training, Ivar’s & Kidd Valley Restaurants
CHART Past President
If you were to look through 1,000 recruiting ads for hotel and restaurant positions, at least 990 of them would most likely include “flexible schedules” listed among the benefits of those roles. It’s been a hallmark of hospitality workplaces across the country due to a variety of factors:
- Hotels and restaurants are generally open longer hours per day, and more days per week, than employers in office settings, so offering flexible schedules each week not only allows managers to fully staff all the shifts, but also allows team members to accumulate enough hours to meet their financial requirements AND keep commitments outside of work such as caring for children or pursing an education.
- Offering flexible scheduling can help businesses comply with labor laws and regulations related to working hours, breaks, and minor restrictions, which can reduce the risk of legal disputes and penalties for non-compliance.
- The ebb and flow of our busy periods (not only daily and seasonally, but also due to special events such as banquets and conventions) creates a need for employees who are willing to work at different times of the day and of the year, and that is much easier to accomplish with flexible scheduling. Additionally, it also helps companies save money by reducing overtime costs and minimizing the need for temporary staff during these varying peak periods.
This benefit has also proven to be popular with most of the employees who work for us:
Given this popularity, it’s not enough to simply pay lip service to flexible scheduling, especially not these days when hospitality is competing with the gig economy for workers. Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart have upped the ante when it comes to this benefit, as people signing up with these companies become their own boss and work only when they want to work. They have full control of when they clock in and when they clock out and don’t have to negotiate their time with anyone – it’s like flexible scheduling on steroids.
To remain competitive with these services, it’s essential that your workplaces offer the best possible version of flexible scheduling, so here are 5 steps to ensure you are on the right track:
1. Set Standards
Just like your company has standards of operations for service and cleanliness, you should have clear and consistent standards that are communicated to everyone when it comes to scheduling practices. These standards should include weekly timelines, such as when schedules need to be posted and how far in advance an employee should request a day off. It should cover policies as well, which could include examples like “Managers need to get employee consent before changing their schedule with less than a week’s notice” or “Employee time off requests will be prioritized according to the request date (and not by employee tenure).” If you cannot remember the last time your team reviewed and updated your scheduling practices, then that probably means it needs to be done again soon.
By implementing these strategies, hospitality companies can ensure they are offering flexible schedules that meet the needs of their business and of their team members in the short-term, and lead to increased staff tenure, workplace productivity, and guest satisfaction in the long-term.