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4 Simple Strategies for Maximising Labour Productivity in Restaurants

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Workforce Management & Productivity

4 Simple Strategies for Maximising Labour Productivity in Restaurants

By Nory - April 13, 2023

In the bustling world of restaurants, labour productivity hinges on an array of factors. Employee expertise, effective scheduling, innovative technology, and savvy management practices are just some of the examples. 

By pinpointing and tackling these elements, restaurant owners can elevate their labour productivity and boost their overall business performance.

If only it was that simple. 

Knowing exactly how to approach these factors is easier said than done. You’ve got a busy schedule, a business to run, and people to manage — so how can you tackle productivity in a simple and effective way? 

This is where we can help. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through four effective strategies to improve your labour productivity — starting with efficient staff scheduling. 

Below are some strategies for efficient staff scheduling:

 1. Schedule Staff Efficiently

Efficient staff scheduling plays a crucial role in increasing labour productivity in restaurants. By carefully managing employee schedules, you can ensure optimal staff allocation, resulting in improved customer service, reduced labour costs, and increased employee satisfaction.

Take a look at some strategies for efficient staff scheduling:

Forecast Customer Demand

Accurately forecasting customer demand is essential for creating efficient staff schedules. Why? Because by delving into past sales data, special events, and other elements that sway customer footfall, you can pinpoint peak and quiet hours.

This information allows you to schedule the right number of employees, at the right time. 

During busy periods, you can make sure you have enough staff on the rota (with the right number of senior team members). During quiet periods, you can prevent overstaffing and keep your profit margins healthy. Find out more about how to create a demand-based schedule for your employees.

Optimise Shifts

Optimising shifts is another critical aspect of efficient staff scheduling. It involves identifying team skills and availability when assigning shifts. As a result, you can create a better workload distribution, and a more efficient workforce.  

For example, you might pair experienced employees with newer staff members to facilitate on-the-job training. Or, you might stagger shift start times to maintain consistent service levels throughout the day.If you use a restaurant management platform like Nory, you can easily optimise your shifts. In fact, you can plan schedules based on availability, shift type, station, staff positions, and peak times.

Monitor and Adjust Schedules

Regularly monitoring and adjusting staff schedules can help you identify inefficiencies or potential issues. For example, you might spot some overlapping shifts, or areas where you’re understaffed. 

If you don’t keep on top of your schedule, you risk spending too much on wages during quiet times, or not having enough staff during peak times and delivering a subpar dining experience. 

So, it’s important that you keep checking in on it to make sure that it’s as efficient as possible. By making adjustments as needed, you can ensure your staff schedules remain optimised and responsive to changing business conditions.If you’re struggling to find the time to manually check in on your schedules, you can use technology (like Nory) to automate updates based on changing needs (we’ll talk about this in more detail later).

Manage Employee Preferences

Taking employee preferences into account when creating staff schedules shows your team that you care about their wellbeing. You want them to work to live, not the other way around.  And when people feel cared for at work, 56% of them are more likely to be productive. 

Plus, it can lead to higher employee retention and reduce turnover, which is better for business. 

Here are some of the areas to consider when managing employee preferences: 

  • Preferred working hours
  • Availability
  • Scheduled days off
  • Flexibility with personal appointments
  • Compensation and benefits 

This approach fosters a positive work environment and can lead to increased motivation and productivity.

Cross-Train Employees

Despite what it sounds like, cross-training employees doesn’t involve squats or deadlifts. In hospitality, it means training your staff to perform multiple tasks. As a result, you can increase labour productivity in your restaurant. 

For instance, you might train your waiting staff to perform front-of-house (FOH) responsibilities. That way, if your FOH employee is sick unexpectedly, you have other team members who can step in. 

This flexibility enables staff to fill in for each other during busy periods or absences, ensuring that the restaurant operates smoothly. It also allows you to schedule employees more effectively, meaning that you can assign different types of shifts to multiple employees. 

2. Invest in Technology

By embracing and investing in cutting-edge technologies, you can give your labour productivity a significant boost. 

But it doesn’t stop there – adopting tech innovations ensures your restaurant stays one step ahead of the competition. You create a well-rounded, efficient business that’s adaptable and ready to take on any challenge the industry throws at it.

Imagine the possibilities: by incorporating modern POS systems, streamlining tasks with management software, and optimising inventory with smart systems, your team can focus on what they do best – providing an unforgettable dining experience for your customers.

Let’s look at these in more detail!

Incorporate a modern POS System

Implementing a modern Point of Sale (POS) system can significantly improve labour productivity. How? By streamlining the ordering and payment process. As a result, your staff can serve customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

It also provides valuable insights into sales data, helping managers to make informed decisions about staff allocation. For example, if your POS data shows you make more sales in the afternoons, you might schedule extra employees to make sure you have enough cover. 

And if you use Nory to manage your operations, you’ll get access to this data in real-time. Check out this video to find out more about how it works!

Implement Task Management Software

Task management software is another essential tool for boosting labour productivity. It helps you plan, manage, and track tasks and activities. 

By enabling restaurant managers to assign and track tasks more effectively, this software allows staff to collaborate and communicate more efficiently. For example, staff can notify you if they’re unable to perform certain tasks for whatever reason. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing the likelihood of miscommunication or duplicated efforts.

It also gives you insight into upcoming tasks and how they align with staff schedules. You can make sure you have the right staff available to perform certain tasks and ensure productivity doesn’t take a hit.

Use Inventory Management Systems

An inventory management system allows restaurant managers to track inventory levels in real-time. You can automate ordering, create inventory reports and identify trends in ingredient usage. As a result, staff can focus on more important tasks, such as preparing and serving high-quality dishes.

So, instead of manually ordering new ingredients or equipment, your staff can focus on delivering the best possible service to your customers. You can leave the inventory tasks to the software. 

Find out more about inventory and supply chain management!

Adopt an Online Reservation and Ordering Platforms

Online reservation and ordering platforms allow customers to make reservations and place orders directly. They reduce the time you spend managing bookings and processing take-away orders, allowing you and your team to be productive in other areas.

Integrating these platforms with your POS system can also provide valuable insights into customer preferences and ordering patterns. You can see when orders are more likely to come in, what sort of food people prefer, and so on.

With this information, you can improve productivity in different ways. For example, you can schedule staff effectively, successfully manage your inventory, and provide online customers with a smooth experience!

3. Provide Employee Training and Development

Employee training and development play a pivotal role in increasing labour productivity in the restaurant industry. By providing employees with the necessary skills and knowledge, your employees can be more efficient and productive with their time.

Plus, when restaurant owners put their heart into employee training and development, they’re nurturing a talented and driven workforce. This dedication can result in a fantastic boost in labour productivity, top-notch customer service, and a flourishing business destined for long-term triumph!

Here are some key strategies for effective employee training and development.

Structure the Onboarding Process

A structured onboarding process is essential for setting new employees up for success. By offering comprehensive training and orientation during their initial weeks, restaurant owners can ensure that new hires understand their job responsibilities, the restaurant’s processes, and its culture. 

Think about it – if you don’t show your new team members how your processes work and how to perform certain tasks, they’ll struggle to do their jobs. And when people can’t do their jobs effectively, productivity goes out the window. With a solid onboarding foundation, you’ll minimise the learning curve and help employees become productive members of the team as quickly as possible.

Support Ongoing Training

As mentioned earlier, regular employee training is crucial for maintaining high labour productivity. This includes both initial training for new hires, and ongoing training for existing staff.

By providing employees with continuous opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge, you can stay ahead of industry trends and maintain high standards of customer service.Head to this article to find out more about training your restaurant staff!

Incentivisw Skill Development

Offering incentives for skill development can motivate employees to improve their performance and create a more engaged and capable workforce — all of which are key factors when it comes to productivity. 

Let’s say one of your chefs has recently completed a dessert training course. For obtaining this qualification, the chef receives a promotion to head pastry chef. Other examples of incentives include financial rewards, promotions, or additional responsibilities.

Offer Mentoring and Coaching

Implementing a mentoring or coaching programme is another way to prioritise employee development. By pairing experienced employees with newer team members, restaurants can facilitate knowledge transfer, skill development, and on-the-job learning.

This approach not only benefits the mentee, but also helps to reinforce the mentor’s expertise and leadership skills. It’s a win-win! And when you have a team full of people with excellent skills and knowledge, you’re more likely to have a productive and efficient workforce.

Evaluate Performance

Regular performance evaluations and feedback are vital for ensuring employee growth and productivity. 

Why? Because with constructive feedback and clear expectations, you and your employees can identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to overcome challenges. In doing so, you help them develop their skills to perform better and more efficiently.

This process promotes a culture of continuous improvement and drives overall labour productivity.

4. Streamlining Processes

Streamlining processes is essential for increasing labour productivity in the restaurant industry. By identifying and removing inefficiencies, staff can focus on more valuable activities that contribute to the restaurant’s success. 

Here are some key strategies for streamlining processes.

Implement Lean Practices

Lean practices focus on reducing waste and improving efficiency, which can help to increase labour productivity in restaurants. By identifying and eliminating unnecessary tasks or processes, your staff can focus on more valuable activities that contribute to the restaurant’s success.

Some examples of Lean practices include minimising food waste by controlling portion sizes, consolidating suppliers to reduce delivery frequency, and implementing just-in-time inventory management to avoid stockpiling excess ingredients.

Optimise the Menu

Optimising your menu can help your kitchen staff be more productive with their time. 

Let’s say that you update your menu to remove unpopular dishes. By offering a straightforward, well-curated menu, staff can focus on delivering high-quality food and providing excellent customer service. 

Here’s a brief overview of ways to optimise your menu:

  • Analyse sales data to identify popular dishes
  • Use similar ingredients to minimise inventory requirements.
  • Remove low-performing items
  • Create dishes are easy to prepare

Standardise Processes and Procedures

Standardising processes and procedures can improve your efficiency and reduce errors. Here’s how: 

By implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for tasks such as food preparation, cleaning, and customer service, you can ensure that all employees follow the same steps. This leads to consistent outcomes, but also helps with productivity. 

Your team members don’t have to think about what they need to do. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out what to do,  they follow the steps and are more productive with their time.  SOPs can also serve as a basis for ongoing employee training and performance evaluations, so it’s helpful in more ways than one!

Improve Kitchen Layout and Design

An efficient kitchen layout and design can significantly impact labour productivity. In fact, this study found that kitchen layout can impact productivity. 

Think about it. If you store ingredients in different parts of the kitchen, it might require time-consuming trips to get the food items. Or if your kitchen is too spread out, the minimum number of staff required to operate each station could increase. 

By strategically organising the workspace, restaurant owners can ensure that staff can easily access the tools and ingredients they need, minimising wasted time and motion. 

Some strategies for improving kitchen layout include grouping equipment by function, creating dedicated prep areas for different menu items, and ensuring that the most frequently used items are within easy reach.

Enhance Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication is crucial for streamlining processes. Without it, it’s hard for hospitality teams to collaborate effectively and be as productive as possible. 

By establishing clear lines of communication between front-of-house and back-of-house staff, as well as between different departments, restaurant owners can ensure that everyone’s on the same page. 

Waiting staff can get updates from the kitchen on delivery times, kitchen staff can get updates from front-of-house on reservations for the night, and so on. 

To encourage  open communication, you can: 

  • Host regular team meetings
  • Keep in touch via task management software
  • Implement communication tools such as walkie-talkies or headsets to talk on the go

Use Nory to maximise efficiency and boost productivity

Boosting restaurant labour productivity is vital for maximising profits and delighting customers. By adopting these strategies, you can increase productivity across your workforce and set your businesses on a path to long-lasting success. 

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – creating a thriving, profitable restaurant that keeps customers coming back for more.

If you’re looking for ways to streamline all of these efforts and centralise your productivity management, take a look at Nory. Our software helps you track sales performance, optimise your processes, schedule shifts, and keep tabs on productivity across the board.


What is labour productivity in the restaurant industry?

Labour productivity refers to the efficiency with which employees perform their tasks, directly affecting a restaurant’s profitability and customer satisfaction.

How can cross-training employees improve labour productivity?

Cross-training employees enables them to perform multiple tasks, providing flexibility and ensuring that the restaurant operates smoothly even during busy periods or staff absences.

What role does technology play in increasing labour productivity?

Technology, such as modern POS systems and task management software, can streamline processes, improve communication, and provide valuable insights to help managers make informed decisions about staff allocation and task assignments.

Why is ongoing employee training important for labour productivity?

Ongoing training helps employees maintain and improve their skills, ensuring that they can perform their tasks efficiently and provide high-quality customer service.

How can implementing lean practices improve labour productivity?

Lean practices involve identifying and eliminating unnecessary tasks or processes, allowing staff to focus on more valuable activities that contribute to the restaurant’s success and improving overall efficiency.

If you want to learn more, we’d love to hear from you.