In uncertain economic times, accurate workforce planning is more important than ever. In theory it sounds simple enough – make sure you have just enough staff to get the job done, no more and no less. But the reality is far more complex. Let’s take a look at several pieces of the puzzle and develop a greater understanding of the big picture.
In order to plan your workforce effectively, you must be able to forecast and project your staffing needs into the future, sometimes months ahead and occasionally years in advance. By doing so, you ensure that you are never caught short-handed, or forced into layoffs due to panic hiring, overstaffing, and/or lack of business. While “just in time” strategies are great for inventory, it can be disastrous when applied to your staffing needs.
If you have been in business for any length of time, you realize that all businesses have peaks and valleys. Economic factors tend to run in cycles, too. Many of these types of influences are somewhat predictable. Where it becomes more difficult is in understanding your own industry’s particular patterns. Most businesses have a busy season and a slow season.
The key is understanding your particular industry’s patterns, and predicating your staffing levels on them. Getting this wrong will cost your business twice – once when you lose money due to being understaffed during your busy season (as your customers walk out in frustration after waiting for too long), and again during the slow season, as you pay too many employees who don’t have enough work to keep them busy.
So how do you smooth out the bumps and forecast effectively? It starts by having a well-defined plan based on a calendar. Plot out your busy and slow times well in advance. If you have an HR department, assist them in understanding the need to tailor their hiring practices to coincide with each cycle. Streamline your hiring process so that you may bring new hires on board and get them up to speed quickly – preparing them for the busy season without having to pay them to train for months on end in order to be ready. Hire employees seasonally and make it clear to them that they may be trimmed when things slow down (of course, if you find real keepers in the group, you always have the option of finding a permanent place for them).
By understanding the big picture, and memorializing it into a written plan, you will greatly reduce not only cost overruns, but your own stress as well!
At Pinnacle, we pride ourselves on providing the most responsive, professional and high quality flexible staffing service available. This means having people who fit your needs perfectly, when you need them. So when your Winnipeg, Manitoba company needs great workforce planning solutions, contact Pinnacle!
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