Dive into insights on the three staffing levels and how they can impact your business.
For any company, there are three possible staffing levels: understaffed, overstaffed, and balanced staffing. Finding that staffing balance is often its own balancing act.
Do your workers log long hours? Are you having trouble getting responses to emails? Have you noticed a decline in productivity, or do peers complain that some staff members aren’t doing their fair share?
The complications of remote working only serve to complicate staffing issues further. Discover how over, under, and balanced staffing can impact your business.
“Business is dynamic, and no one can anticipate its ebbs and flows perfectly. So, it’s an unfortunate reality that companies periodically experience staffing disparities. The solution is to embrace the dynamic nature of business by adopting a talent strategy that enables organizations to shift with market forces,” said Elizabeth Eiss, Founder and CEO of the talent curation and freelance recruiting platform ResultsResourcing.
“For example, when overstaffing occurs, companies need to reexamine customer demand and work backward to determine what customers value most. The next step is to reassess roles and responsibilities to ensure they reflect concrete deliverables validated by customer demand. Shift workers to those roles. Even if over staffing still exists, you are matching costly people resources to high ROI work, to help a company overachieve in an area that customers will value and reward with purchases.”
When a company is dealing with an overstaffing issue, it is natural for employees to be concerned about their jobs. This is when a company's culture should prioritize solutions other than layoffs.
“Employees need to understand – and believe – that the move to a nimble talent strategy is not a ‘cost-cutting tool’ and instead something essential for the long-term health of a business. A nimble talent strategy tied to measuring shifts in customer needs and demand motivates staff to be part of the force rising to the market occasion as opposed to being victimized by it,” said Eiss.
“Granted, these transitions won’t be perfect. Some people may refuse to move to a new role, and layoffs or reduced hours may be necessary. However, there will be people who rise to the occasion, and new opportunities to deliver value will come to light. While you are asking people to transition, run training programs for high-value, customer-facing roles. This will involve staff in the process, inform them about economic realities and help your employees quickly develop new skills and adapt to their new roles.”
The signs of overstaffing are high labor costs compared to production, idle workers, too many meetings (often with too many people attending), and a lack of employee motivation. While the complications created by overstaffing are problematic, they tend to be dwarfed by the troubles caused by understaffing.
“Understaffing is a situation that needs to be addressed immediately,” said Eiss. “When a company is understaffed, its employees have more work than they can handle, which, ironically, leads to less work completed and completed well. Important issues get overlooked, balls get dropped, mistakes happen frequently, and customer service suffers. In many instances, companies find it very difficult to recover from the damage that occurs from understaffing.
“Often, understaffing occurs because a company’s approach to acquiring talent is too limited. High employee turnover and slow hiring and onboarding practices create a situation where employees struggle to fill-in for positions they weren’t hired for and that don’t match their skills.
Instead, it may not be necessary to fill every role with a full-time employee. Companies that employ a nimble talent strategy staff their core positions with full-time people. For non-core work, these companies seek alternative methods to access skilled talent. This leads to focusing full-time staff on the work customers value most (which generates the highest ROI) balanced by outsourcing the non-core work (which is necessary and critical to support operations) to flexible contract workers.
“These workers are not widgets,” said Eiss. “They are freelance professionals who are skilled and passionate about their field of expertise. They have a business-owner mentality and can hit the road running.”
Building a hybrid team of workers creates a nimble talent strategy, enabling a business to scale up or down and optimize its use of capital between high-value work and necessary support work.
“A staffing partner can be a valuable part of a nimble talent strategy to ensure all relevant talent options are explored, evaluated, and accessed. Traditional staffing firms that focus only on full-time recruiting using legacy methods and tools, may not provide the wide range of hiring options necessary for today’s complex environment,” said Eiss.
“Increasingly the talent market is online where numerous technology platforms match job needs to flexible workers. But all platforms are not equivalent and may require significant time and effort – also non-core work – to use. Working with a forward-thinking staffing firm, businesses benefit from thought leadership and advancements in hiring options, practices, and technology for fast access to various forms of talent, both full-time and contract.”
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