Hospitality employers are being urged to support their staff as the sector reopens post-lockdown, as well as boost retention, by giving them the advance notice of working hours and shift patterns that effective teams need to deliver great customer service.

Workforce management specialist Bizimply has responded to new research by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) which has found that almost two-fifths (37%) of UK workers in full or part-time employment are given less than a week’s notice of their shifts or work patterns.

Bizimply believes hospitality operators can go a long way towards addressing the problem by taking the often-irksome task of planning staff rotas off the workload of managers, and instead making the most of employee management tools that automate the process.

Bizimply CEO Conor Shaw said: “There has to be enough flexibility built into a rota to deal with last minute changes in demand. However, the reality is that in too many cases, the main reason that staff get late notice of shifts and working hours is because managers are busy, and they will always feel their time is better spent front of house, rather than stuck in the office drawing up rotas.

“In addition, despite the number of jobs lost over the past year, there is always competition for the best hospitality employees. Employers who allow their staff to plan ahead by giving them proper notice of their hours and shift patterns will be in a better position to recruit and retain.”

The LWF research also suggests that lower-paid workers are disproportionately affected, being more likely to be given short notice of shifts, with 55% having less than a week’s notice of work schedules, and 15% having less than 24 hours’ notice.       

Shaw added: “The good news is that it looks like there is strong consumer demand to get back into hospitality as the lockdown lifts, but that also means that operators are going to be relying on their teams more than ever.

“It’s not simply about delivering great service, as front-line staff will now also have to ensure businesses meet the legal requirements of track & trace, social distancing etc. Employers are asking more of their teams than ever, and something as simple as giving decent notice of working hours goes a long way to showing staff they’re not taken for granted.”

Bizimply estimates GMs can spend up to six hours a week creating a staff rota using Excel or similar, which is time when they are not front of house managing the business. Equipping them with the right software to produce rotas and payroll gives this time back. One operator using Bizimply software is now creating rotas for 60 team members, across five sites, in just one hour a week.

Details of the Living Wage Foundation research is at https://www.livingwage.org.uk/news/almost-two-fifths-working-given-less-weeks-notice-working-hours    

For details of Bizimply’s support for employers see https://www.bizimply.com/hospitality-scheduling-software/