HUMAN RESOURCES | Staff Reporter, UK

The science of productivity across front and back-of-house revealed

Almost 30% of team hours are incorrectly allocated due to inaccurate planning and fluctuations in trade.

Currently, the UK hospitality market seems a little uncertain. With competition getting stronger than ever, the HR and workforce management platform elementsuite is seeing closures on every high street and operators are under immense pressure to ensure they’re not only providing a good customer experience but have efficient and productive team members in order to meet these needs.

elementsuite's CEO Steve Elcock has discussed his top tips for improving productivity across front and back-of-house and how an operator can benefit.

Introduce ‘Shape of Day’

Typically, 20-30% of team hours are allocated incorrectly due to inaccurate planning and fluctuations in trade. Sometimes there’s overstaffing when quiet, and understaffing when busy. Therefore, implementing automated systems that refresh every 15 minutes can help improve the accuracy of schedules by better predicting customer demand and staffing required with attention to shift start and end times throughout the day.

Shift swaps can be requested and approved, and unfilled hours can be alerted to whoever is available. Daily time and attendance ensures hours are accurately recorded, which reduces end of week errors and risk of back pay. Most importantly, as the move towards more flexible shift patterns takes place, the digital workforce systems provide transparency on ‘fair and equitable’ working.

Attention to daily sales and labour ‘flex’

If an operator is not getting accurate daily information on how labour is flexing up and down in line with sales - a trick is being missed. Unfortunately, we live in a world where sales on any given day in any given site will rarely match the forecast. Close operational attention is required to flex labour up and down as far as possible, whilst being sensitive to fair and equitable working on shift patterns and contract hours.

Build and nurture highly engaged teams

Any improvements in productivity go hand in hand with team engagement. This is a highly researched area and the evidence is clear – better engagement improves employee retention and leads to increased productivity and service. But the challenge is how to do it.

The two big opportunities are ‘people marketing’ - better connecting with front line teams, and ‘shift leadership’ - equipping the Duty Manager to lead the perfect shift through a combination of leadership coaching and providing better tools to do the job.

Improved Guest experience

This is all about improving ‘under staffing’ at peak times, leading to better availability of staff and service interaction with guests. Our experience is that a 5-10% increase in Guest Scores on Staff Availability and Service can be achieved where understaffing is a problem

Increased spend per head

This is directly associated with improving the guest experience. More attention to guests creates opportunities for additional spend per head through upselling and offering extras. Our experience is that a 2% improvement in spend per head is readily achievable.

Improved Productivity

This is the hard benefit of reducing ‘over staffing’. The gains tend to be higher in larger sites, where wage % can look favourable (compared to smaller sites), yet mask the true productivity efficiencies that should be delivered in high volume businesses. Our experience is that a 2% reduction in wage % is readily achievable without impacting service.

It’s no secret that restaurants are fast-paced environments, and information runs the risk of not getting passed along, particularly at peak times. It’s in these stressful times that an effective method of communication is key. The rise of digital platforms to assist in productivity makes communication far more fluid, and ensures sending updates between the front and back-of-house easy and instantaneous.  

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