Your star server is always ready to take on busy days. An extra slice of pie for table five? No problem. A spill in the kitchen? Easy. A large party lingering a little too long? It’s handled with tact.
But without a break, your server can burn out.
If you want to retain staff — and keep your customers happy — you need to ensure your team has a healthy work-life balance. Thankfully, a short break from work and some time off can go a long way in boosting staff morale. Read on for six tips on how to manage your team’s time off.
1. Have a PTO policy in place
Review your employee handbook and locate your current policies for vacations, maternity leave, and sick days. If you notice any discrepancies, talk with your HR team and other admin to revise any information that doesn’t align with how you’re supporting your staff.
Make sure you communicate these policies with all of your employees as soon as they’re hired. You can also use a central platform of communication to upload any employee handbooks or PTO policy revisions to ensure that your staff know everything they need to about taking time off.
If you don’t clearly communicate your policies, your staff won’t know how much time they can take off — or when. A formalized policy can alleviate questions and even help encourage your team to take wellness days and care for their own wellbeing.
2. Set a deadline for requests
It’s Thursday morning before a holiday weekend. Your schedule was filled with the perfect number of staff for the busy weekend — or so you thought. Two servers just booked last-minute vacations and you have to scramble to find replacements.
Unfortunately, you didn’t have deadlines for when requests needed to be submitted, so you have no reason to deny their requests.
Deadlines and processes for time off requests will ensure that even the busiest of staff shifts will be covered when someone is away.
If a staff member requests to take a single day off, make sure they let you know at least a week in advance. This will better allow you to have more time on creating new schedules and swapping shifts before the week even starts.
If an employee wants to take a week or two off, require them to make their request a month in advance. That gives you a little more time to adjust your current schedules.
3. Use smart technology to track your team’s time off
As you hand out spreadsheets with everyone’s schedules, you’ll also need to update them with new business information and make sure they’re assigned all the right tasks before their shift starts. But where do you share information about who’s about to go on vacation?
Using a single platform to manage your staff’s time off will give you complete visibility over who is taking time off and when you will need to get their shift covered. With leave management software, you can approve of any time off easily and track accurate leave balances.
4. Create a process for overlapping requests
Sometimes two of your waiters will schedule the same time off. But if you’re short on staff during that time, you likely can’t let both of them take time off at once. Implement a branch of your PTO policies that shows how you’ll manage overlapping requests.
If one of the employees has worked at your business longer than the other, you can create a seniority rule for PTO. However, you may want to go for a first-come-first-serve approach if that doesn’t seem fair to your staff. There’s no one correct way of doing it. But at least having a process will save you lots of headaches — and employee complaints — in the future.
5. Reward employees for working peak shifts
When one of your team members covers their coworkers’ busier shifts, they’re showing you initiative and commitment. They’re also showing you just how much of a hard worker they are. Recognize them for taking the time in their schedules to help the team — and your business.
Acknowledgments don’t have to be bonuses or promotions. You can reward your staff with a gift card of their choosing to celebrate how much effort they’re bringing to your workplace. Or, you can speak with another employee who has room to take one of their busier shifts and surprise them with a day off.
6. Communicate clearly
An effective communicator is able to motivate their team to get more done with more successes and fewer mistakes. Make sure you have a safe space and platform to discuss any concerns, suggestions, and frustrations with your staff.
Without communication, you won’t know what your team needs and vice versa. Encourage them to communicate with you, and each other when they’re thinking about their next vacation. If they let each other know in advance, they may be able to help you cover their shifts faster if they voluntarily want to cover them.
When your team is communicating with you — and each other about taking time off, everyone will be better prepared to cover open shifts and take on job responsibilities. There will be no more need for texting your employees to cover a shift or adding additional tasks to someone’s daily schedule at the last minute. Communicating allows for more transparency and less unpredictability when it comes to PTO.
Relax and unwind
Both you and your team deserve a break. With solid PTO policies in place, you can easily manage leave requests and shift coverage before your employee even leaves for vacation.
Want to learn more about how you can level up managing your team. Download the Manager's Guide to Work-Life Balance and support your team in unexpected ways.