One thing I have noticed throughout my career, is an ongoing business assumption that if we add more people to address a particular body of work, then problems will get solved.
There are times when this is most definitely true. If there are substantial changes in your business model that result in material increases in work volume (and hopefully sales revenue and profit), it will be hard to cover that work without more people, at least at first.
However, before moving to a people solution, I encourage leaders to think of the issue as if you were spending your own savings account on the personnel adds. When we are spending our own money, it suddenly becomes more real and I would bet we would look at other options first that may be free or lower cost.
Here are 6 alternatives to hiring full time employees that will address your work demand:
1) Designate Clear Job Accountabilities:
Ensure that everyone who does the work clear is clear on their job accountabilities and how success is measured. We have all observed or been in scenarios where bosses don’t give clear direction and employees are left to try to figure stuff out. There are also situations when multiple people seem to be accountable, so no-one is sure what their part in the work is. This lack of accountability reduces productivity and causes morale issues. Clarify, document, and communicate, to increase your existing team’s output.
2) Streamline The Work Flow:
Assess the process work flow and ensure it as efficient as possible. Understand what the activities are along each step, required handoffs, dependancies on other departments and where the pain points reside. Ask the staff members that are doing the job, where the biggest opportunities lie to make their jobs easier. As processes age, there are often approvals that were required in the past, that can now be avoided. There are also many roadblocks that leaders can help to soften or remove.
3) Ensure Team Members Have The Required Skill Sets:
Jobs change over time. As internal and external technology evolves and business needs change, ensure that the employees that are doing the work still have the information and the skills that are required. If not, skill-up the current team members, and/or look to bring in some new talent from the outside.
4) Automate Manual Processes:
As companies scale, what we used to be able to handle manually, is no longer supportable. Look along the end to end processes, and where we can automate and speed up tasks that used to require manual intervention. You may want to start with a meeting with your internal IT team to explain your internal business needs, followed by some interviews with external software vendors.
5) Remove Employee Engagement Distractions:
Common corporate america issues like rumors, low performing colleagues, layoffs in other teams and new business acquisitions can all distract employees, and ultimately reduce employee productivity. Keep a close pulse on activities and events that can disarm employees, and take the appropriate actions to engage employees and keep them fully focused on their success and the success of your business.
6) Use Contractors Instead of Permanent Employees:
If you are unsure if the staffing demand is long term or short term, consider hiring contractors instead of hiring permanent employees. There are many staffing firms that specialize in helping businesses find the right, shorter term talent. There are also many contractors, who want to convert to permanent, if you determine that the needs are long term.
There are many alternatives to “throwing people at a problem”. Are you spending your company’s money like it was your own? You may also like this short white paper, “The Ten Cardinal Rules of Capacity and Demand Planning”,