Recruiting, training and retaining kitchen staff is one of the most difficult, and important challenges that you’ll need to overcome to see success in your kitchen. Today we’re going to chat about how to deal with short staffing on a day to day basis, to ensure your kitchen never misses a beat.

Prevention is the best plan

Once you’ve done your shift schedules, have another senior member of staff cast their eye over it to see if there are any possible problems. There may be a big occasion coming up you’ve neglected to take into account, a holiday or special event and you may have left such shifts accidentally understaffed-it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion to make sure you’re not left in the lurch.

Have on call staff

Designate one person per shift who is not working but is on call. That way any last minute emergency’s which result in an unfilled shift can be solved with your designated on call staff member. They should arrive, if necessary, ready to work to cover anyone who doesn’t show up. They may not have to come in, but you’ll have one less thing to worry about, and it will without a doubt come in handy on several occasions.

Train your staff across the board

Cross-train your staff so that people from different departments in your kitchen can help fill in where another area is short staffed. Frame the training and opportunity as a stepping stone for promotions, and that way everyone will be happy.

Have some temps

You can register with a local temporary staffing company or, if you’ve got the time, source and interview your own temps (students are ideal for this, especially in holiday times when you’re busier). That way, when you are left in the lurch for any extended period of time (due to illness, for example), you can make up the deficit by taking in some temps and temporarily reshuffling your kitchen.

Have a solid policy

It’s important to be understanding when employees can’t make work due to illness or personal reasons. Just make it clear however, that such notice must be given as far in advance as possible, to allow you to make up for the lost worker.

Resize the front

If you know you will be understaffed and your staff will struggle to work at full capacity, close down a section of the restaurant. You’ll still be able to open and provide the service you’re known for, without either your staff or your customers taking a hit. Place a number of tables together and reserve them so it looks as though you’re waiting for a large party, that way it won’t be obvious that you’ve closed off a section of the restaurant.

Putting in place a few systems will ensure you never get left in the lurch, allowing your kitchen to run more smoothly and consistently, which will only mean good things for your restaurant.

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