How to find wage efficiencies: Our top tips


1. Embrace tech

Use a scheduling tool like Deputy, which gives you visibility of staffing costs versus estimated sales income in a given week, prior to publishing the schedule. This cloud-based tool also has an integrated timesheet function, allowing staff to clock on and off a shift, log their breaks and block out availability, right from an app on their phones.

2. Minimise turnover

It is much more cost-effective to retain existing staff, than it is to deal with regular staff turnover. The expense of hiring new staff, training them, and reduced productivity while they get up to speed is probably more than you realise. While high staff turnover in the industry is considered a given, it is possible to retain hospitality staff. Look at your recruitment practices to attract more career-minded individuals and implement solid retention strategies, such as benefits, incentives and gaining their commitment to the cause.

3. Crunch the data

As with all aspects of business management, knowledge is king. Reviewing historical trends, peaks, periods of overstaffing, etc. is crucial for effective rostering. Going back before looking ahead will help avoid repeated mistakes.

4.Take a break

There’s loads of efficiencies to be found by being smart with breaks. Requirements vary between provinces, but typically short breaks (less than 30 minutes) where the employee stays on site are paid, whereas breaks of 30 minutes or more are unpaid. Wherever possible, be strategic about structuring breaks. Rather than two paid 15-minute breaks in a shift, aim for one half-hour unpaid break. With multiple employees over the course of a month, this small change could save you thousands.

5. Weigh up your options

When it comes to casuals versus full-time employees, paid leave and entitlements vary. Look at the staffing requirements of your particular business, and weigh up the pros and cons of both options. For example, while you are required to pay a full-time employee for sick days which seems like an added expense, you may save in the long-term with reduced employee turnover. Similarly, a more experienced employee might demand a higher rate of pay, but could be the equivalent of one-and-a-half employees in terms of productivity.

6. Consider ‘on call’

Having an on-call contingency as part of your roster could be a game-changer. This will require open communication with your employees, and some might not be willing. But if you have some casuals who are happy to pencil in their availability for a shift or two on an on-call basis, this is a great way to minimise unnecessary staff costs without the risk of understaffing. This is particularly effective if trade is contingent on external factors such as weather, for example.

7. In the mix

Think about the mix of skills and experience you require for each shift, to deal with necessary tasks and peak periods. Also consider team dynamics, pairing people who work well together and avoiding, where possible, personality clashes which may impact productivity and workplace culture. Another important consideration is employee preferences; some might perform better in the morning, while a student doing night-classes might not be 100 per cent for those early morning shifts.

8. Be smart with the surplus

Inevitably, you’ll find times where staff members are standing idle. Make the most of those quiet times by having a list of tasks ready to go, such as cleaning, folding, restocking, or even admin if possible. Another effective use of this time is training and development. Train a server to put on coffee shots, get a barista to hone their milk skills, or practice up-selling.

To brush up on your requirements as an employer, visit the government's Workplace Rights page. As wages and employment terms are governed by the provinces - and they do vary - be sure to check the laws in the province/s in which you operate.