Here we’ve distilled over 30 years’ experience improving workforce management practices down into 10 easy checklist items just for you. As a group here at Zuus, we’ve worked with thousands of people in organisations like big split-ownership franchised organisations right down to single-unit operators to get results by improving their workforce management processes.
Here’s ten steps you can take towards improving your workforce management:

1. Know what KPIs you want to measure

Customers always tell us that it’s vitally important to know what KPIs to pay attention to. Check your operations manual and chat to other business owners – they love talking about business to someone who’s interested!

As Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

The best operators balance out a combination of 2-4 KPIs to get optimal staffing levels that maximise sales and minimise unnecessary wage spend. Quick service restaurants (QSRs) look at:

  • wages over sales as a percent (labor cost %)
  • customers per man hour (often called productivity or customer to staff ratio)
  • sales per man hour (often called labor efficiency).

While our retail customers tend to look at labor cost % alongside productivity. A retail store that matches their staffing levels at an hourly resolution to their forecast of customers on the floor can boost sales massively!

2. Know your hourly stats

Just as important as knowing your overall output for the day is knowing your demand curve. What are your peak times? Is there one peak or two? To know this you’ll have to pull a report from your point of sale or tracking software and check. Remember it will change week-to-week, and knowing this info will help you match your staffing levels to demand.

3. Cost your schedule

Labor is typically a large percent of your costs. For restaurants this can be 20-30% and in retail typically 13-20%, so it’s important that you manage these costs carefully. Customers often say that they had no idea that labor hours were being wasted until they costed the schedule accurately. It’s a complex job to cost a schedule accurately, taking into account the staff penalty rates, correct age-based rates and rates associated with performing higher duties. By costing the schedule hourly you can immediately see areas where staff levels can be optimized by either changing the combination of staff duties or cutting back shifts at off-peak times and moving more shifts to peak times which results in a higher sales conversion.


4. Assign jobs to staff shifts

Make sure everyone has a responsibility for their shift. Making staff responsible for a station means they are accountable for the output, and they ‘own’ that station. Of course changes will happen on the fly, but assigning responsibilities means staff take their job more seriously and less time is wasted delegating tasks when staff get to work.

5. Have a procedure for no-shows

Staff call in sick, don’t turn up, swap shifts and don’t communicate properly – these things all happen, and they affect your productivity. Have a plan and a procedure in place for when the worst happens so you can quickly and effectively find a replacement employee.

Should I let my staff swap shifts?

6. Have some form of electronic time & attendance

Tracking hours worked with staff time books is inefficient and leads to accidental or even deliberate time theft. “Did I start at 5:30am or 5am today? Definitely 5am.” Everyone knows this happens with time books so eliminate that time theft by having staff sign on and off with a PIN that only they know. You can also take the extra step to eliminate the risk of buddy-punching completely with a fingerprint reader.

Josh Bell from Guzman Y Gomez talks about Zuus Workforce Management

7. Have managers approve hours worked

Your manager’s job is to manage the hours worked by their staff so you need to hold them accountable for the hours worked each day. Have your managers check and approve the hours worked at the end of each day and even throughout the day, and have them update labor cost against sales data. This makes managers accountable for the decisions they’ve made during the day, and means they will make better decisions under pressure next time.

8. Check numbers against your plan

Allocate 15 minutes at the end of each day and check how your numbers are panning out for the week so far. If your cumulative labour cost against sales is looking good for the beginning of the week, then you know you’ve got a couple extra hours up your sleeve to get some extra jobs done, or pull in another staff member to make more sales.

9. Export approved hours for payroll

With manual time books, the first time someone looks at actual hours worked could be when they payroll manager opens the staff time books or gets a pile of paper timesheets. This gives rise to the risk of a nasty surprise when payroll is finished because you won’t know about a labor cost blow out until 7 to 12 days after it has happened. This is way too late to adjust!

10. Have a double-check on hours worked

Once hours worked are approved by management, payroll needs to double-check the shifts to check for data-entry errors or mistakes. Double-check to eliminate those accidental 15-hour shifts and shifts with no break.


By introducing Zuus Workforce, your managers can have all this in one place, giving everyone in your team access to the data they need to make actionable business decisions fast and accurately. Zuus completely automates steps 2 through 6 and step 9. Step 7 and 8 – approving hours worked and checking their numbers – with Zuus gives the manager a sense of control and only takes seconds to do. At the end of the period, the entire payroll process takes less than an hour, even with 1000 staff!