Split shifts – why and how they can be used to improve your business

Oct 18, 2022
min read

Scheduling is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, part of restaurant management. Whether you run a new, small business or a long-standing establishment, the fact remains: how you schedule your staff is a key factor in your success. You need the right staff levels to ensure customers are served promptly, but you also need to be mindful of giving your team time away to rest and recharge. How do you find balance between the two? 

That’s where split shifts come in. They’re the secret to maximizing profits, productivity, and employee engagement. If you’re unsure of what exactly a split shift is, or you’re wondering if it’s the right scheduling move for your business, you’ve come to the right place – in this blog, we’ll break down what a split shift is and the benefits it can bring your business. 

What is a split shift?

A split shift is what its name entails: a single shift on a workday that’s split in the middle by a gap of two or more hours. They’re often used in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

For example, an employee with a split shift might work from 10AM-1PM, then clock out, and clock back in for 4PM-9PM. From 1PM-4PM, the employee is free to do whatever they want – they could go home and rest, or run errands. This mid-shift gap isn’t the same as a lunch break; employees are still entitled to their required meal breaks under employment laws, even if they’re doing a split shift. Split shifts are intended to give back time to employees and to allow for flexibility. 

Why schedule a split shift?

Split shifts are a great way to ensure you’re properly staffed without wasting your team’s time. The need for staff is subject to the flow of customers, and typically restaurants and other hospitality businesses experience rushes of customers, and then lulls in between. Split shifts ensure you’re staffed and ready for a lunch and dinner rush, without having staff wait around those few hours in between.

Benefits of split shifts 

Split shifts might require a bit more planning, but the benefits they bring for both the employee and employer are worth considering.

Work-life balance

Split shifts are a great way to give employees better work-life balance. Having a few hours off midday gives employees flexibility for appointments and errands, and even for school pickup in the case of an employee with children. Even if all your employee does during the gap in their split shift is rest at home, this is far better than waiting for a table at the restaurant during non-rush times. Giving employees back this time improves employee morale and happiness. 

Increased productivity

Split shifts can lead to higher productivity. Employees will get time away from the restaurant midday so they can come back ready for the rest of their shift. Often, this midday break is just what an employee needs to recharge themselves for a busy dinner shift.

Lower labour costs

Last, but not least, split shifts help to lower labour costs for your restaurant. The right amount of staff is necessary during busy lunch or dinner rushes, but it’s a waste of time and money to have employees on the clock during quieter hours. Split shifts help you staff appropriately for your busiest hours while controlling labour costs in the slow periods of the day. 

Incorporating split shifts

So, now that you know what a split shift is, you’re convinced it’s the way to go for your business and you’re ready to implement them in the next schedule. That’s great – but before you incorporate split shifts into your schedules, here are a few things to consider.

Be willing to coordinate with your team 

Communication is extremely important when it comes to split shifts. Before adding them into your schedule, make sure you have a conversation with your employees about what a split shift is, why they’re being scheduled, and any rules around them so there aren’t any misunderstandings. 

Get informed on the laws

Before implementing split shifts, be sure to familiarize yourself with the labour laws of your province or state. Most laws will outline rules around split shifts; the general rule is that there must be a gap of at least two hours in between the splits. Some regions may also implement split shift premiums that must be paid on top of regular and overtime pay. Be aware of the laws in your location before putting that first split shift on your schedule. 

Be aware of commute time

Two hours seems like ample time to run a few errands, go home and rest, and come back ready for a dinner rush. But be mindful of how far your employees commute to work when scheduling them for split shifts. If an employee takes public transportation, this will mean longer commute times, so you may want to schedule a longer gap for their split shifts. 

Keep good records

Always keep records of your employees’ shifts: their start/end time, clock ins and outs, total number of hours worked, and meal breaks. This ensures that pay, and if applicable, split shift premium, is accurate so you aren’t losing money in labour costs.

Addressing issues that can arise 

While split shifts seem like a foolproof way to maximize profits and productivity, there are issues that you may run into once you start to schedule them. Some members of your team may not like split shift schedules and prefer to work straight through their shifts; others might not be able to work them because they don’t have the proper transportation (i.e. a car) to leave the premises during their gap. The key to solving these issues is proper communication: ensure you’re open and understanding with your employees, and that you’re listening to their concerns so you can address them accordingly. 

Getting started with Ameego 

Trying to figure out how you’ll successfully add split shifts into your schedules? With restaurant scheduling software like Ameego, managing split shifts and all other scheduling tasks is easier than ever. With Ameego, you’ll get: 

Speak with our team today to learn more.

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