Staffing peaks and valleys are part of running a business, but they don’t have to be the horrible menace many company owners see them as. With a few expert tips, you can keep profits up, costs down, and your customers happy without overworking your current employees.
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Become a Good Forecaster
The best way to handle staffing peaks and valleys in busy seasons is to become a great forecaster, and, no, you don’t have to have a crystal ball. Just paying some close attention to trends can make a business owner a whiz at predicting the future.
An excellent way to create a good plan is to look at the trends from the same time in the previous years and how busy your company has been in the last few months. This type of research should give you an idea of how many employees you’ll need in the next three to six months.
Some other factors to think about when creating a forecast:
- Does your business have any promotions or business events happening soon that could call for more employees?
- When do you need to hire these people, so they are trained and ready to go when the busy season starts?
- Think about other possibilities that could affect the number of employees you’ll need. For instance, if you’re in charge of a snow plowing company and experts predict a particularly wet winter, you’ll want to factor this into your hiring decisions.
How Many People to Hire
After you have made your plan and determined where the staffing peaks and valleys will most likely be in the next few months, you’ll have to decide how many people you’ll need to hire. You’ll need enough workers to get the job done without having to go through the pain of firing several employees when a valley hits.
A good rule of thumb here is to allow about a 20% overtime margin. For instance, if you believe you’ll need ten employees in the next few months, you’ll want about eight or nine. The other employees will have to work a little bit harder or longer to pick up the slack. A slight short-staffing may be a bit more difficult on your employees now, but it will prevent firings in the future.
You can also think about hiring temps to pick up the extra slack. These contractors will only work with your company for as long as you need them, usually a set amount of time. Then, you won’t have to surprise anyone with a pink slip because the temp will already know they’ll need new employment after the allotted time.
As mentioned a little bit before, you’ll have to factor in employee productivity to best handle staffing peaks and valleys in busy seasons.
One of the best and easiest ways to promote productivity is to refrain from keeping your employees too specialized. For instance, you can train other office employees to do SEO so you don’t have to rely completely on one person who may have to take time off or end up with more work than they can handle. Putting in the effort to generalize your workers’ skills can go a long way to cut costs and keep your customers satisfied.
Another trap that business owners fall into is giving employees busy work when they notice them sitting around. This strategy makes sense because, hey, you’re paying these people thousands of dollars a year. Just make sure the work they’re performing is of value. Have a manager plan tasks for employees that fulfill your company’s long-term goals, and worker output will rise drastically.
Many business owners may be wary of outsourcing, but the level of quality has gone up significantly in recent years. Some companies have even decided to outsource 50% or more of the work they do.
When utilizing outsourcers, you should expect the same standard of work as you would from your regular employees. To maximize quality in outsourced workers, ensure they have the expertise and training to do the job. If they do, you’re essentially hiring a professional to take care of certain aspects of your work that you find difficult. Professional outsourcers save you time and energy that would have been spent training an internal worker.
Outsourcers can also do work that doesn’t take place during business hours. For instance, it doesn’t make much sense to open your office on weekends or nights so that one or two employees can handle customer calls. Instead, have an outsourcer perform those jobs so that you can hold onto your extra money.
Hiring an outsourcer can also help increase productivity in your workplace. As a contract worker, you might be more comfortable doing manual labor to the best of your ability. You might not be so effective on the phone, whether due to lack of time or energy. An outsourcer can take care of certain jobs more productively, especially if they have the proper experience and training. Their contribution can help you focus on what you do best, which will provide an overall better service for your customers.
Becoming a good forecaster of staffing influx can help you determine when to hire and when to fire. Outsourcing, bringing on temporary positions, and having flexible, non-specialized workers can help you manage through highs and lows. Planning ahead and thinking about what your company’s goals are can help you create worthwhile positions and increase employee productivity.