When someone doesn’t show up for their shift at work – how much does that (a no-show) cost you? And what can you do
about it? This article tries to answer just that for you. This article is meant for people operating a restaurant,
café, diner, coffee shop or similar. Most of the arguments are valid for any type of small business however.

The first question to answer is –

Which implications does it have when people don’t show up for their shift?

First and most importantly – it means poor service for your customers. If there are fewer people at work – then chances are that customers will get a poorer service and thus a bad experience. Ultimately if it is a busy day then people might leave your place just because it looks insufficiently staffed.

Second, if they actually do sit down at a table they might leave before they are served –
talking about the experience to all their friends. Third, if they actually get served, they might just not put that
second order for an extra cup of coffee because they can’t be bothered with the waiting time.

How much does that cost you? It depends of course on your prices and the amount of customers that you have on that day – but it can easily result in several hundred dollars per night with a no-show. Then come all the stories and bad PR that the customers who actually stood the waiting time will spread – that’s hard to measure, but bad PR can kill you in the long run.

So is that all, you might ask? No – I’ll argue that there is more to it that can damage your business in the long run. Think about the frustrations that it generates internally between the employees when people don’t show up. Whenever somebody doesn’t show up for their shift – the other guys have to do extra work, run faster, wait on more customers etc. Not funny to suddenly have 50% extra tables to watch out for during a night. As an employee you will have a heck of a time running between customers to try and satisfy everybody knowing that you probably don’t. That’s simply not cool when it could have been a good night where you could have had the extra it takes to up sell with a better wine, another meat dish, dessert etc. while keeping the customers happy and leaving them with a feeling of being well looked after.

If that’s how the other employees experience it then it will result in poor team spirit for everybody.
Eventually employees may quit because of this – how much does it cost you to train a new employee?

Furthermore customers can easily feel the difference between a good and a bad team spirit. If the people serving me seem to get a long good with each other and have a good time – then chances are that I will tolerate mistakes better and still have a pleasant dining experience. If they work as a team then they will probably also handle mistakes better – not blaming each other, handling it with a smile etc.

So why don’t people show up? Seems like it is a big killer for business…

First reason – they get ill – it happens and there is not much to do about it if it happens just before they had to meet up.

Second reason – perhaps they aren’t committed to their shift schedule? This could be because they had no influence on how it came to look like? I’m more likely to accept a shift for the third friday in a row if I had a chance to actually influence the creation of the schedule by applying for days off and having the chance to tell when I’m busy doing other things and would rather not be working. It can be a big puzzle for the one doing the work schedule but as an employee it really matters to me.

Third reason – If the employee schedule is in paper form then the employee in questions might have lost or forgotten how their shift schedule looks like or they don’t have the proper tools to easily access and view the employee schedule.

Fourth reason – things pop up that people prioritize higher than work. You could of course say that you only want staff that have their jobs as no. 1 priority but that isn’t always a realistic thing to assume. So when things actually DO pop up and your employees would rather not be working anyway – it could be a problem if they don’t have the proper tools for trading shifts easily. If they can work it out themselves – it won’t cost you any trouble nor time and you’ll have a happy employee who got to go to that party anyway – leaving him or her with a good story to tell everybody and helping team spirit –> and thus business.

Ok I get it – but what can I do about these employee schedules?

Fist thing you can do is to involve people in the staff scheduling proces. You can either do this on the staff meetings but as this article suggests – it might not be cost effective since you can spend the valuable time talking about more business productive things than a boring work schedule. You can also collect preferences and requests by notes or email – it takes a while to interpret but in the end it will provide a better work schedule that the employees will appreciate. There are also a lot of online applications facilitating and helping out with this proces.

Second thing you can do is to make it absolutely clear who has which shift. Do this by sending out the work schedule by email, snail mail or as a hand out. Make sure that schedules are easy to read and comprehend leaving no doubt about who is working when. Again – this can be done automatically if you are a little internet-savvy.

Third, you can allow and encourage people to trade shifts when things pop up and they are suddenly unhappy with their shifts. Of course you’ll have to make it clear that when a person’s name is on a shift – then it is that person’s own responsibility to find a replacement and not yours. Again you’d have to make that really easy for your employees to keep things from going wrong. Some sort of system to handle this proces can also be a big advantage for you here.

Fortunately – there are some cool Employee Scheduling tools out there that in an easy way involves your employees and gives them the opportunity to see employee schedules, trade shifts, submit availability etc. One of them is BusyBeeManager that you might want to check out, but there are many more.

Good luck with getting your no-shows to a minimum!

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