Anyone operating a small and thriving business has experienced the growing pains that come along with it … especially when it comes to appropriately staffing the team.
Hiring more people can seem like the obvious answer, but it’s a risk – what if growth slows? How do you balance staffing for both busy and slower seasons? When do you find time to train new team members?
From attracting top talent to utilizing contractors and giving your team the tools to manage their time more effectively, we’ve compiled four effective ways to help you create a business model that not only keeps your staff afloat, but facilitates growth, as well.
Utilize contract or freelance workers
Chances are, you’re among the 41 percent of small business in the U.S. who report that labor shortages are currently impacting their businesses.
One way to tackle hiring challenges is focusing on your seasonal needs. These are times when your team needs additional support on a specific project or during the busiest months of the year, but you don’t need to drastically increase the size of your team year-round.
Having a large roster of freelance and contract workers gives you the best of both worlds. During busy times of the year, these trusted contractors can sign on for the entire season, or on a project-by-project basis.
While their hourly rates may be higher than a typical employee salary would dictate, your team will save money on benefits, incentives and bonuses. Plus, freelancers are only getting paid in months when the extra support is needed.
If finding the right freelancers to staff specific projects feels like a time-consuming endeavor, it’s because it is. Between checking their availability, keeping track of additional schedules and balancing projects between both in-house employees and external partners can feel like a full-time job. The solution? Make it one.
While it may seem contradictory to hire a dedicated resource or scheduling manager, rather than one of the positions you need support on, they will save time and energy for the entire team.
Rather than having each employee reach out to multiple freelancers or making the entire team scramble when a new project or deadline comes in, the resources manager is in charge of scheduling all work, both internally and with freelancers.
This will allow all employees to spend more time on their work – and less time requesting support.
Utilize software to automate tasks
Unlike large corporations with hundreds of employees, each with specialized and specific job functions, small businesses operate with small, talented teams, full of people who wear many hats.
Necessary but time-consuming tasks like staffing jobs, scheduling and sending appointment reminders, requesting payments, managing events and posting on social media, tend to fall on all employees, regardless of their specific role.
To combat this, use business software to streamline those tasks that can be automated. This will free up the time of your employees, placing their focus where it matters most, allowing them to feel less overwhelmed by mundane tasks.
You’d be shocked by how much more effective and efficient your employees are when they aren’t spending half the day bogged down by tasks that, while necessary, don’t add to the bottom line. The problem often isn’t understaffing, but an ineffective use of time.
The upfront investment of CRM software may seem daunting – but it may just result in fewer employees on the regular payroll.
Additionally, implementing digital tools will make your company more attractive to new talent that understands the benefits and convenience of new technology.
Attract top talent
Having an appropriately staffed business isn’t just about the number of employees you have, but who those employees are. One efficient, hardworking and quick-learning team member may be just as effective as two or three less-motivated or inexperienced employees. Hiring the right people allows your business to thrive with fewer people on the payroll.
In order to hire top talent, your company needs to be seen as an attractive option – which can be a challenge when competing with large corporations with deep pockets and tons of resources. So, how can you gain top employees?
First, a competitive salary, hiring bonus and benefits package are key to winning top talent. Even though the upfront cost may be intimidating, consider that hiring more experienced and highly recommended individuals may cut down on your overall number of employees and accelerate your growth, both making and saving you money in the long run.
Today, many workers are enticed by flexible working conditions. They want to work with companies that offer the ease of working from home, or who are willing to accommodate unorthodox hours or breaks needed during the day, so long as the time is made up and projects are completed on time.
Potential employees may trade off a slightly lower salary for a job that better fits their lifestyle.
Retain top talent.
When it comes to creating a scalable business, retaining top talent is key. When a seasoned employee leaves, it’s not uncommon for employers to find that the learning curve for the position is more extensive than they thought.
In fact, replacing an employee costs one half to two times their annual salary. So, if an employee earns $50,000, the cost of replacing that employee is anywhere between $25,000 to $100,000.
To be seen as a long-term career destination, start by promoting from within. Most employees won’t stay with a company for long if they don’t believe they have opportunities to grow or make more money.
When looking to fill a new or advanced role, think about who is on your team before hiring new staff, and consider what training or classes they may need to step into that role instead.
Consider implementing an employee incentive program, like a growth bonus. As your business grows and scales up, your team will be eager to take on more work, knowing they’ll benefit financially from it.
Finally, enforce healthy boundaries and work life balance. Smaller businesses may not be able to offer the same raises or benefits packages as their larger counter parts – but for many employees it is worth it if their personal time is protected and respected.
Scaling your business can be a daunting process. Understaffing can lead to employee burnout and high staff turnovers, while overstaffing can lead to a heavy financial burden.
Find the right balance by utilizing freelance or contract workers in busy seasons, retaining your best employees throughout the year, and utilizing business software to help automate whatever tasks you can to take the strain off of your employees as you grow.