By: Amanda Stokes – Operations & Training Consultant,
Synergy Restaurant Consultants
As we are all adapting to the new normal post-pandemic in the restaurant business, we find ourselves in the battle to attract and retain talented managers and team members. The restaurant business is now competing with other industries that offer more normalized schedules with more flexibility. Restaurant workers have historically prided themselves on how much they work, treating burnout and exhaustion as a badge of honor. However, employers and employees alike are beginning to see the mental and physical toll these long hours take on an individual. What was once considered a radical idea is now in practice in many companies and restaurants today. It begs the question, could condensed scheduling be the workweek of the future? Haven’t we all dreamed of a shorter workweek?
Condensed Work Weeks: Is This the Future?
Used correctly, compressed working hours can be a great tool for keeping workers in the restaurant business when they otherwise may look for a change. As a former Director of Operations for a large casual dining company, I personally offered reduced workweeks to leaders on my team. This idea came to fruition when one of my best managers struggled with work-life balance after returning from maternity leave. I could see it was taking a toll on her both personally and professionally. After careful planning and consideration, we landed on a 4-day workweek that would allow her the flexibility of having three days off to spend with her family. She received 80% of her salary (based on a 50-hour workweek), and she was thrilled to pioneer this new model. This model can also have managers working four extended days with no salary reduction. In addition to creating a better work schedule for my team, their productivity and engagement increased significantly. I eventually had four managers working condensed schedules that delivered best-in-class KPI results for the brand! Talk about a win-win situation!! I loved hearing how these managers had an overall improvement in their well-being.
Many companies, including Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A, are offering flexible condensed work schedules to their teams. They have reported many benefits, including, improved operations, fewer absences, improved culture, and many more that lead to improved employee morale and retention. This model of a condensed work schedule could be a game changer for independent restaurants and make attracting new employees significantly easier. In today’s climate, offering a sign-on bonus is common practice, so offering a condensed workweek can be a cost-effective way of introducing an employee benefit that will not add additional cost to the business.
Another thing to consider with condensed workweeks is the benefit of reduced commuting and daycare costs. This could mean significant cost savings for employees and reduce stress over current inflation levels.
There are many things to consider before offering this benefit to your team. This type of work schedule may not be ideal for everyone. It is critical to understand the needs of your team. If you decide to move to implementation, have a strategy and clearly communicate how this will work for everyone on the team.