Methods For Determining Staffing Needs
- Evaluate Business Flow
- Ask Managers
- Pay Attention To Customer Experience
- Keep Bases Covered
- Use Competitors As Benchmarks
How can you understand the staffing requirements of a business? You might be asking, “How many staff do I need?” There are a number of ways human resources departments determine necessary staffing levels at their organizations. Determining these ideal levels is important for every business to meet their staffing needs at all times without having excess staff present or staffing gaps. It helps improve the customer experience and allows businesses better chances for success and growth. Here are some of the methods businesses can use to make critical decisions about their staffing needs and to avoid the negative impact of inadequate staffing or how to increase staffing.
Evaluate Business Flow
Observing and evaluating regular business flow offers key insights into staffing needs. For example, it might be a no-brainer that certain times of the day require more staff to be present than others, such as more wait staff at a restaurant during peak lunch and dinner hours, or more cashiers at a grocery store after many people get off work. In other cases, peak times may not be so easily identified. Human resources departments and managers need to observe the regular ebb and flow of their business operations and from that determine when staffing needs are greater or fewer. Quantifying the data can help.
An informal but effective way to determine optimal staffing levels is to talk to managers about their needs. Managers typically know when the busiest times are and when they need the most people available. In some cases, it can even be better to give managers the power to determine and act on their own staffing needs, including dealing with having enough staff and long term staffing needs. Observe independently, however, because allowing managers too much freedom can backfire. Excess staff results in needing to pay those workers, so managers shouldn’t be allowed to have more employees at any given time than they realistically need to serve customers and perform their operations within the company.
Pay Attention To Customer Experience
Another key indicator is the customer experience. Businesses can determine this by taking customer surveys or simply observing when customers have a long wait time. If complaints from customers keep cropping up, that is a good sign a company is short-staffed. Companies can then use that data to more effectively determine how many qualified staff members they need present at key times. The main downside to this method is that it tells a company nothing about whether they have too many staff members working at any given time. However, it can still be helpful. In a healthcare setting, it is extremely important to pay attention to nurse staffing levels. This will directly impact patient outcomes.
Keep Bases Covered
All companies should know the roles they always need covered. For example, employees to answer calls and key manager roles may be required at all times. If necessary, make a list of what roles need to be present at a company on any given day. Start with the bare minimum and then go from there. Remember that if too many employees ask for time off at a certain time, some requests will need to be denied in order to meet necessary staffing requirements. A systematic review of your business needs will give you a clear overview of staffing level issues, including potential overstaffing or not having enough staff. Then determine any staffing level issues. Look at the remaining staff and qualified candidates to determine staff numbers and individual roles. It is important to think of the long run and not just short term when making these decisions. There are different ways to come to the right number of staff of each situation.
Use Competitors As Benchmarks
Although an imperfect method, observing competitors can offer important insight into a company’s estimated staffing needs. This is called benchmarking. As the Harvard Business Review notes, there are even a few wide studies that outline ideal staffing needs for companies based on size and type, which is invaluable data for companies to consider and utilize. A business that has a similar size and location and offers a similar product will likely have similar staffing needs to another business.
Determining required employee levels can be a challenge, but there are plenty of methods and research that can help with staffing strategies. Human resources departments need to pay close attention to staffing levels to ensure the needs of their organization are always sufficiently met. Making staffing decisions to have appropriate staffing levels rather than inadequate staffing levels provides a positive organizational culture and can help avoid increased workload on qualified staff which could lead to high staff turnover.