Breaching the 3 pm to 5 pm gap

Written by Vic Hamblin
Optimising your shift patterns so that they work for you and your employees is no easy task!

As an employer, it is important that you have the right staff at the right time for your business. Wages are the biggest single expense in the hospitality sector and having your team being unproductive is not the best use of their time (or your money). Another consideration is that in this current climate with businesses struggling to fill positions it is important to get the most out of this limited resource whilst they are on shift.

As an employee it is imperative to have a clear understanding of when they will be working, and whilst they are on shift to understand what is expected of them.

Poor shift planning can lead to staff burnout, a disengaged workforce and high turnover all resulting in poor customer service and major headaches for business owners and GMs.

There is plenty to think about when planning your shift patterns and this is where our software Labour Deployment comes into its own.

In a nutshell, Labour Deployment provides intelligent guidelines on staffing levels, providing you with the recommended employees required on an hourly basis, based on forecasted sales for the day.

The software also considers non-sales related activities such as prep hours, cleaning downtime well as busy delivery days which can all be factored in at site level.

You can then start to build your shift patterns to allow for the peaks and troughs throughout the day to maximise your front and back of house activity.

As a business owner, Labour Deployment will give you an overview of how well you are deploying your teams as well as breaking down the reporting to site level. 

Please don’t just take our word for it, Turtle Bay have this to say..

The Polaris Labour Deployment module has been an excellent solution that has not only helped with labour control but in modernising and streamlining our ways of working

Our teams receive instant feedback at the point of rota planning, giving a clear view on when and where there is a labour need. This has reduced the admin burden of rota planning significantly. No more spreadsheet guides, multiple data downloads and email exchanges.

The tool not only provides clear recommendations of deployment across the week, but also across the hours of the day – this makes it much easier to maximise sales during times of high demand and flex down in quieter periods

Efficient labour spend is not about cutting costs; it’s about spending in the smartest possible way. This tool allows us to do this.”
DAVID JAMES, Head of Business Intelligence, Turtle Bay

Now for a quick demonstration giving some insight into how Labour Deployment can work for you and your teams.

Let’s just take a peek at one day:

Below is a screenshot of a typical shift pattern before we have optimised the staffing levels.

  • The black line represents the number of recommended employees on shift each hour based on predicted sales and non-sales related tasks input into the software.
  • The current shift rota is shown below the graph.
  • The columns in yellow demonstrate overstaffing levels.
  • Columns in red highlight understaffing levels.
We have highlighted 4 areas for consideration

  • The blue circled area indicates that the business is overstaffed between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm.
  • In the red circled area, you are understaffed by one person between 7 pm and 8 pm.
  • The green circle looks at the data across the day and gives you the percentage of costs being allocated to wages. (In general, the hospitality industry sweet spot is around 30%).
  • The last circle highlights the recommended daily hours against the actual hours planned in – on this day the business is overstaffed by 6.85 hours.

Now we can use the Labour Deployment software to reallocate shifts and look at the difference to your bottom line.

This now paints a very different picture:

By moving one shift from the morning to the evening the impact has been significant.

There is an under resource still in the early evening, but as you are aware of this, it gives the team plenty of time to prep in advance knowing that there is going to be a particularly busy hour.

However, the impact on the business’s profits is significant. The wage percentage has dropped to just over 30% and the hours required that day has been reduced by  6.35 hours.

Now for the very simplified maths bit:  

Based on £10 per hour wages the example above would have the following impact if applied over a year.

One day’s saving              £63.50
One week                           £444.50
One month                        £1926
One year                            £23 112

This doesn’t even consider the front of house potential savings and any additional venues in your portfolio.

Even if your shift patterns are in a pretty good place and you just tweak your shifts by an average of 2 hours per day, over the year that is a saving (in just one area of your business) of £7 300.

If you would like to find out how Labour Deployment can support you and your teams whilst making your hospitality business far more efficient, please do get in touch for more information on 0203 800 193 or email us at


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