What team do you need?

Let’s imagine I hold in my hand a magic wand.

And because you’re one of my favourites, I’m going to wave my magic wand…

And award your business an abundance of new customers that pick up the phone and want your product or service right now!

It’s the sort of growth that you’ve been planning, scheming, and dreaming up for years…

Now, what comes next?

After celebrating by popping a bottle….

Somewhere between drinking your glass of champagne…

A sinking feeling hits you:

You realise your team is nowhere near equipped to handle the demand of work or new requests that are now coming in! 

In fact, this sudden escalation of work post-COVID-19 is already significantly impacting some of our clients, leaving business owners wondering how they are going to handle it.

What COVID-19 has also done is very clearly pointed examples of great employers AND great employees, and has exaggerated where there is a great fit and where there is a terrible fit. So be prepared for some movement both ways. 

This is where Workforce Planning comes in.

Otherwise known as:

Identifying the right people, with the right skills, at the right time who are passionate about your vision and values.

Ok, so you may never hit a hot streak where you win every job over a 3-month period…

However, if you’re like most of my clients, you will be exposed to the natural ebbs and flows of a dynamic environment that a growing business operates in. With this, you will experience some super big months and some low months.

If you’re worried that you’ll have too many staff that you can’t afford during some months of the year…

Or that they’ll be MIA when you need them most for your peak periods…

This article is going to help you plan and structure your people requirements, service your clients and maximise your profits while operating in a fluctuating business environment.

Step 1: Learn from your history

Understand your key peaks and troughs by reflecting and learning from the past. Recruitment requirements for the future should generally not provide too many surprises. 

Use the following exercises to help:

  • Review the times over the previous years that there have been excessive hours worked or jobs that could not be taken on due to resourcing
  • Review the times where there is maybe not enough work for people to do
  • Map out the flow of work prior and post busy periods
  • Review your workforce profile data (i.e. make up of casuals, PT, FT)
  • Check whether there were headcount increases or decreases during key times in your history i.e. How many people did you lose last year and the year before? What month did they leave and at what stage of their tenure? Was it in a team member’s probation period or after 2 years etc. Are there any trends? 

The key is to understand why and when people are leaving, so you can..

1) Hopefully do something about it!

2) Get a feel for natural turnover in your business and the necessary future requirements. 

Step 2: Analyse current operations

Understand your legislative, compliance, and market parameters as well as the OUTPUT of what each of your staff delivers.

Particularly, who are your team members? Who are your top performers and why are they so successful? Which ones are not performing? and lastly, how can you support their success or set up performance discussions?

If you don’t already have a team, this is your opportunity to define what this would look like in terms of desired output per person and assist with identifying the number of people required.

Step 3: Look into the crystal ball

Define what you want your business to look like over the next 12 months and preferably 3 years at least.

Do this both from a financial model perspective and a strategic perspective to help you plan the resources you need to support your growth.

Also, consider what the market and your competitors will look like over the same period and what your customers might be needing. 

This will help you identify the type of skill sets and the number of team members in each area. For example, are you significantly growing a part of your business and decreasing another part; do you need to obtain great digital marketing resources, and so on. 

Step 4: Assess Fit

Moving forward, assessing fit against your values and behaviours will likely predict turnover. 

Hopefully, you have your values and non-values clearly defined (if not, please do not hesitate to contact us about what is involved in establishing this) and identify team members who are driven and excited by your vision and are a fit for your culture. 

Step 5: Take action by focusing on initiatives and strategies

Now that you are aware of some of the things that will impact your workforce, identify what you will do about it.

This may include:

  • Introducing new skill sets to the business
  • Looking at outsourcing or insourcing some functions
  • Looking at your succession planning requirements
  • Job re-design
  • Changes in budget forecasting
  • Recruitment or retention strategies (i.e. start recruitment early for peak periods)
  • Reviewing policies and procedures you have in place
  • Changing the mix of your workforce (i.e. introduce more casuals to provide greater flexibility OR increase your permanent base to build and lock in key team members)
  • Look at your standard operating hours (i.e. is there any opportunity to provide Monday morning off and extend a late night or Saturday morning)

Now that you have some context on your business, how do you determine what skills you need and how many people you require?

There are various ratios and models to help predict this (i.e. It used to be a minimum that an employee returns at least 2 times their salary package to sustain them in the business).

But this also needs to fit your personal budgeting requirements.

The key thing is to gain clarity on the costs and impact on revenue that each employee brings to the business. Whilst also understanding what revenue you might be missing out on due to not having the right skill sets placed in your business.

The general rule of thumb is to think about what your absolute quietest month would be and your minimum staff requirements to just open the doors. This is what your permanent or fixed base should be.

Now, do the opposite:

Think about the absolute peak trading period (or requirements subject to growth plans) and start looking at how you can be recruiting or introducing those skill sets as early as possible with either casual, fixed-term contracts or external providers.