News Release

New research shows unpredictable work schedules impact restaurant revenue

Nearly a 5% drop in checks handled by servers asked to stay longer

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

INFORMS Journal Management Science Study Key Takeaways:

  • Changing an employee's hours during their shift, typically by having them stay longer, hurts restaurant revenue.
  • Checks for parties handled by servers who'd been asked to stay longer during their shift dropped by 4.4%, on average.
  • Servers asked to stay longer reduced the effort spent on upselling and cross-selling additional menu items.

CATONSVILLE, MD, February 25, 2021 - Short notice versus no advance notice makes a huge difference when it comes to employee scheduling in the restaurant industry. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science finds checks for parties handled by servers who were asked (with no advance notice) to stay longer than their scheduled shift dropped by 4.4%, on average.

The study, "Call to Duty: Just-in-Time Scheduling in a Restaurant Chain," conducted by Masoud Kamalahmadi of the University of Miami, Qiuping Yu of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Yong-Pin Zhou of the University of Washington analyzed 1.5 million transactions from 25 restaurants in 2016 to look at the impact that unpredictable work schedules have on server sales efforts and restaurant revenue.

The research finds giving an employee a couple of days' notice (short-notice scheduling) doesn't affect sales efforts, however, real-time scheduling (changing people's hours during their shift, typically by having them stay longer) hurts revenue.

"Our analysis indicates that this occurred because servers reduced the effort spent on upselling and cross-selling additional menu items," said Kamalahmadi, an assistant professor of management science. Employee fatigue is controlled for in the study.

"We also show that the reduction in server's sales effort is more profound among less-skilled workers, during the weekend or non-rush hours," continued Yu, an assistant professor of operations management and business analytics at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech.

The researchers found that stepping away from the heavy use of real-time schedules not only creates more predictable work schedules, but also improves the expected profit by up to 1%.


About INFORMS and Management Science

Management Science is a premier peer-reviewed scholarly journal focused on research using quantitative approaches to study all aspects of management in companies and organizations. It is published by INFORMS, the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. More information is available at or @informs.

Ashley Smith

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