Split shift scheduling is a common practice in the restaurant industry to accommodate varying daily business demands.


It involves dividing an employee’s workday into two separate shifts with a break in between. 


This scheduling approach allows restaurants to efficiently manage staff levels during peak and off-peak hours, ensuring adequate coverage during busy times while optimising labour costs.


Here’s an overview of how split shift schedules typically work in restaurants and other food service operations:


  • Shift Division: An employee’s workday is divided into two shifts in a split schedule. These are usually called the “first shift” and the “second shift.” The first shift usually covers the busy lunch or dinner rush, while the second shift covers the quieter period. 
  • Break Time: After completing the first shift, employees are given a break before starting their second shift. This break can vary but is typically shorter than a traditional shift break. It allows employees to rest, refresh, and prepare for the upcoming shift. 
  • Hours and Compensation: The total working hours for a split shift schedule may add to an entire workday, but the actual hours worked in each shift may be shorter. For example, an employee may work a 3-hour shift during the lunch rush and return later in the day for a 4-hour shift. It’s important to note that split shift schedules may affect employee compensation, as different jurisdictions have varying labour laws and regulations. 
  • Staff Rotation: Restaurants often implement a rotation system to ensure fairness and equal distribution of split shifts. This means that employees take turns working different shifts, including both the busy and quieter times, allowing everyone to share the workload and experience different aspects of the restaurant’s operations.


You may ask… 


Why do business operators opt to do split shift scheduling?


Here are some advantages of split shift schedule to employers: 


Extended operational hours: Split shifts allow businesses to extend their operational hours beyond regular business hours. This can benefit other industries, such as healthcare, transportation, and customer service, where round-the-clock coverage is necessary. By having employees working during different shifts, businesses can cater to customer demands at various times.

Increased productivity during peak hours: Split shifts enable employers to have additional staff available during peak demand periods. This can result in improved productivity and customer service as there is sufficient staffing to handle higher workloads and provide timely assistance. Having fresh employees during peak hours can enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Improved employee coverage: Split shift schedules help ensure adequate staffing levels throughout the day, even during non-traditional hours. By dividing the workforce into different shifts, employers can minimise gaps in coverage and maintain consistent service delivery. This reduces the risk of being understaffed and improves response times to customer needs.

Optimal resource utilisation: With split shifts, employers can utilise their equipment, facilities, and workspace efficiently. By having employees working during different shifts, businesses can use their assets better throughout the day, minimising idle time and maximising productivity.

Flexibility in staffing adjustments: Split shift schedules allow employers greater flexibility in adjusting staffing levels based on changing needs. They can easily modify the number of employees assigned to each shift to match fluctuating demand patterns, seasonal variations, or unexpected situations. This agility allows businesses to adapt quickly to market conditions without compromising service quality.

Improved employee satisfaction and retention: Split shift schedules can offer employees greater flexibility in managing their personal lives, increasing job satisfaction and improving work-life balance. Employees who have the flexibility to accommodate personal obligations and preferences are more likely to be satisfied with their work arrangements, resulting in higher employee retention rates.

Continuity of operations: Split shift schedules ensure that operations continue smoothly throughout the day without interruption. With employees working in different shifts, businesses can maintain a continuous workflow, reducing downtime and ensuring seamless transitions between shifts. This can be particularly advantageous in industries where continuous operations are crucial, such as manufacturing or customer support.

Reduced labour costs: Split shifts can control costs by aligning staffing levels with demand. Employers can adjust the number of employees scheduled for each shift based on the expected workload, avoiding overstaffing during slower periods and reducing unnecessary labour expenses. This can lead to significant savings in terms of wages and benefits.


While the latter mentions explicitly that it can reduce labour costs, all of the listed advantages above, when viewed as a larger picture, still contribute to reducing overall staffing costs. 


How do split shift schedules help save labour costs?


Reduced overtime expenses


By implementing split shifts, employers can better distribute work hours throughout the day, reducing the need for employees to work extended hours or overtime. This helps to minimise overtime pay, which can significantly reduce labour costs.


Optimal staff utilisation


Split shifts allow for more efficient utilisation of Staff. Instead of having all employees work during the same standard hours, the workforce can be divided into multiple shifts, aligning with peak business demands. This ensures sufficient staff coverage during busy periods while avoiding excessive staffing during slower times.


Increased productivity during peak hours


Split shifts enable businesses to have additional Staff during their busiest periods, ensuring efficient service delivery. By having a fresh set of employees come in for the peak hours, productivity can be maximised, resulting in improved customer service and higher output during critical periods.


Minimised idle time


In industries with fluctuating demand, split shift schedules help avoid paying employees during periods of low activity. Instead of having all employees present throughout the day, businesses can adjust the shifts to match demand, reducing idle time and associated labour costs.


Eliminating downtime


In specific industries, split shifts help eliminate downtime between tasks or processes. For example, in manufacturing, a split shift schedule may allow one group of workers to complete a production run while another group handles maintenance or setup tasks. This ensures continuous workflow, reducing downtime and maximising productivity.


Cost-effective staffing levels


Split shifts allow employers to balance the required Staff and associated labour costs. By adjusting the length and timing of shifts, businesses can align their workforce with demand patterns, avoiding overstaffing during non-peak hours and minimising unnecessary labour expenses.


Reduced turnover and absenteeism


Split shift schedules can offer flexibility to employees with personal obligations or preferences outside of work. This flexibility can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover and absenteeism rates. Lower turnover and absenteeism can save costs associated with hiring and training new employees and maintaining productivity.


But before we go, here are some essential things to consider when adapting this system:


  • Analyse your business needs: Understand your business’s peak and low-demand periods to determine when additional Staff is required and when fewer employees are sufficient. Analyse historical data, customer patterns, and workload variations to inform your scheduling decisions. 
  • Communicate with your employees: Involve your employees in the scheduling process. Seek their input on preferences, availability, and potential conflicts. Open communication ensures that the schedule accommodates their needs as much as possible and reduces the likelihood of dissatisfaction or turnover. 
  • Balance workload and breaks: Ensure each shift has a reasonable workload and includes appropriate break times. Split shifts can be tiring if the workload is too heavy or breaks are insufficient. Strive for a balance that maintains productivity and allows employees to rest and recharge. 
  • Consider commute times of your employees: Factor in commute times when designing split shifts. If employees have long travel distances between shifts, it may lead to additional fatigue and reduce productivity. Try to minimise travel time between shifts or provide adequate break periods to account for transportation. 
  • Schedule rest periods: Split shifts can be physically and mentally demanding. Ensure employees have enough time between shifts for rest, meals, and personal commitments. Adhering to labour laws and providing sufficient rest periods can help maintain employee well-being and minimise burnout. 
  • Manage shift transitions: Smoothly manage handovers and transitions between shifts to ensure effective communication and continuity of work. Provide clear instructions, update shift logs, and encourage open communication between employees to minimise disruption during the handover process. 
  • Evaluate and adjust: Monitor the effectiveness of the split shift schedule over time. Collect feedback from employees and supervisors to identify areas for improvement. Adjust the schedule to address concerns, optimise productivity, and enhance employee satisfaction. 
  • Use scheduling tools: Consider utilising scheduling software or tools that can automate the process and make it easier to manage split shifts. These tools can help you track employee availability, calculate work hours, and streamline scheduling. 
  • Compliance with labour laws: Ensure your split shift schedule complies with applicable regulations. Be aware of rules regarding working hours, rest breaks, overtime, and other relevant provisions. Compliance with labour laws is crucial to avoid legal issues and protect employee rights.

In Summary:


A split shift is a work schedule where an employee’s work hours are divided into two or more blocks of time within a single day. Instead of working a traditional continuous shift, the employee is assigned to work during non-consecutive periods throughout the day. Each period of work is separated by a break or off-duty time.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of split shift schedules in saving labour costs can vary depending on the industry, business type, and specific circumstances. Employers should carefully analyse their operational needs and employee preferences to implement an optimal split shift schedule that balances labour costs, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

And if you can’t make things work and you are thinking of hiring skilled chefs and kitchen staff to ensure productivity in your kitchen, give us a call at Anytime Staff.

We provide staffing services in Perth and all over Western Australia. Our roster of professional chefs and kitchen staff are available as short-term hires for :

  • peak periods
  • events/private parties and celebrations/pizza chefs
  • fill in for an emergency or annual leaves
  • start-up team for opening venues  

Anytime Staff can also assist you in looking for permanent hires by facilitating your recruitment process.


That’s it for this week.

As always, professional chefs are on call at Anytime Staff!

Ciao for now,


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