At this time of year it’s really easy to focus on “just getting through Christmas” especially if it’s your industry’s busiest period. When you fall into this trap, however, you tend to forget to plan for the new year. In this oversight, many miss the opportunity to make sure their rostering for January is perfectly balanced to start the year off right.
January is a difficult time to nail your staffing strategy, but it’s an important one to get wage efficiency right. School Uniform retailer Bob Stewart, provides a great example. For a business with a rush in mid to late Jan, using early hiring (October) to ensure adequate staff was blowing wages out by 20%.
Finding the right balance between staff and demand is key to a flourishing business.
When businesses collectively waste over $109bn each year in ineffective staffing, ensuring you have the right strategy by January is your best path to your most productive year yet.
So while the balance is different for every business, there are key considerations that will best help you to uncover your sweet spot for sufficient staffing.
Here at 5 things to consider when assessing your staff numbers for the new year:
– When will all staff return from Christmas leave? Are there staff that still need to take leave to recover from Christmas?
– How will you motivate returning or exhausted staff to perform?
– How will summer & school holidays impact your business?
– Do you have peak staff that need to be kept or moved in?
– What’s your backup plan for unexpected staffing needs?
1) Christmas Leave
Do you have staff that are returning from a Christmas break or do you have staff that are exhausted from the Christmas rush and need a January break?
The question of when you will have all-hands-on-deck and how you will cover staff in the meantime is an important one to ask – lest you start the year already behind or worse, with burnt out staff.
2) Staff Performance
Are staff taking going to take time to ramp up after their break or do you have staff that are slowing down because they’re due for one?
Think about how you’ll plan to for return staff to full productivity in the new year. Either way, there will be productivity losses and you’ll need to decide whether your powers to motivate staff are enough or are temp staff needed to pick up the slack.
3) Summer Holiday Peak
Is your business one that peaks during the school holidays, or does your workforce have a large parent contingent that will want to take time off to look after their kids?
Either way, being aware of the post-Christmas demands on staff is important. It’s in recognising post-Christmas peaks that Bob Stewart were able to get their wages under control. Buy bringing in temporary staff for the January rush, rather than hiring extra staff the year prior, their team cut wages by 20%.
4) What Are Your Plans For The Peak Staff You Hired?
Is yours the kind of business that hired Christmas casuals or did you scaling up in the expectation of a bumper new year?
Either way, you will need to spend some serious time considering any extra staff you have on and whether they have a permanent place in your staffing strategy. These decisions could be key to your starting the new year with too few or too many staff.
5) Have You Got A Back-Up Plan For Unexpected Staffing Needs?
What will you do if several staff get struck down with the flu, or a key staff member injures themselves?
Staying flexible in your staffing strategy is the best way to get the mix right. By leveraging temporary staff like the team at Bob Stewart, your business can operate on fewer staff while bringing in extra hands to meet demand with just a few hours notice.
Overall, taking some time as the year draws to a close to assess your staffing needs is the best Christmas gift you can give your business. By answering these questions your staffing strategy should become clear and you will know your best path forward for a productive new year.
Whatever you find in your assessment, leveraging temporary and casual staff will help you maximise productivity while keeping wage costs in line.