Not now... I have a headache

Ever had a hangover? Worse yet, ever had to work with a hangover? Not pretty. You're achy, you're fuzzy, and you're definitely not in the frame of mind to give great service.

How many of your restaurant staff — front and back of the house — show up for a shift in this condition?

I recently enjoyed lunch on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe. It's an extremely popular destination for tourists and wealthy visitors from nearby San Francisco. The labor market consists of young people looking to earn enough money to live all summer and ski all winter. They're young, generally inexperienced, and hate to get up early after a late night of fun.

The result? Few smiles, low-quality work, and managers who scramble to recover from the less-than-stellar service. The manager I met in Tahoe looked over in exasperation and said, "Not only do I have to pick up the slack, but I have to make sure they at least pretend to be happy to be here."

Bottom line: hangovers hurt — everybody. You can't stop the partying. So what can you do about it?

My suggestion
Adopt the "designated driver" mentality when scheduling. If you can drink responsibly, why not work responsibly?

Young people these days are accustomed to choosing a designated driver. I suggest you choose a designated team to work the early shifts. For example, give Team A one weekend of working the early shift as the "designated team." This gives the other teams' members the chance to sleep in and come to work later in the day. Team A knows that they'll have the next weekend (or two) when they can have a jolly good time.

Not everyone needs the morning off to recover from a hangover. Some people, myself included, just aren't morning people. We appreciate an opportunity to sleep in, enjoy a cup of coffee, or go out to breakfast.

Other solutions
Take a tip from the fantastically successful television series, "Survivor." Grant an Immunity Certificate when an employee exhibits outstanding performance. This is like a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" in MonopoIy. An employee in need of a reprieve due to an unplanned night of reverie, a cancelled flight, out of town visitors, or a sick child, can use the Immunity Card to cover their shift. You'll need to refine the rules to fit your situation, but trust me, your employees will figure it out. They've been on both sides of these situations, and I'm sure you'll get lots of great variations on this theme. It only works for you if it works for them.

If you like this idea, we've created Designated Team Guidelines and an Immunity Certificate  that you cna use to introduce these concepts at a pre-shift briefing, management meeting or staff meeting.

Today's top stories

1
Comps at Panera Bread rose 2.3 percent during the fourth quarter, rising on initiatives put in place to expand delivery and catering, the bakery-cafe chain said Tuesday. At the chain’s company-owned...
2
Five Dunkin’ Donuts patrons in New York and New Jersey are suing the chain for charging customers state sales taxes on items that were exempt from the fees, according to a report in the New York Post...
3
The National Restaurant Association is starting a new dual-pronged program to remind the nation and its political leaders of restaurants’ key economic and social roles. The social media component...
4
C-stores, supermarkets and other establishments that sell ready-to-eat food as a secondary business are pushing for adjustments in the menu labeling rules that will be imposed on all multiunit...
5
Papa John’s has doubled down on its commitment to “better ingredients” by offering customers a free pizza if they’re unhappy with their order. Starting this week, unsatisfied customers can call their...
6
Providing exclusive consumer trends and insights to enhance your marketing strategy. Powered by Technomic . “Technomic is a Chicago-based consulting and research firm providing a 360° view of the...
7
Chipotle employees attending today’s chainwide staff meeting learned of a new policy intended to safeguard guests: All crewmembers will be required to stay home for five days after symptoms from an...
8
Red Lobster will be accused tonight in an episode of the “Inside Edition” TV program of misleading the public and violating Food and Drug Administration guidelines by presenting less expensive types...
9
Red Lobster appeared to be asleep at the keyboard this weekend, as it came under fire from Twitter fans who couldn’t seem to believe the chain was missing the chance to respond to a shout-out from...
10
Single Americans aren’t shying away from Valentine’s Day dining , as 42 percent plan to visit a restaurant in celebration of the holiday of love, according to a recent OpenTable survey . "Contrary to...