While it can be easy to feel a trickle of fear in challenging economic times, it can instead serve to be a defining moment for a business on the verge of boldly pushing forward into the future. By turning that moment of anxiety and distress into an opportunity to empower your existing staff and infuse your business’ workflows with innovation, you can guide your company through an economic rough patch and emerge on the other side miles ahead of the pack.
Often, business leaders have a knee-jerk response to uncertain economic tides and attempt to “do more with less.” However, simply decreasing the quantity of staff and increasing their work load burden is a recipe for burned out, unhappy employees.
A recent study reported in Forbes found that chronically burned out and overloaded employees, however much they may want to help in these tough times, are 31 percent more likely to quit. This causes a domino effect that negatively impacts their organization’s bottom line.
In 2016, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) analyzed data collected from their annual Human Capital Benchmarking Survey and determined that the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, in addition to an average of 42 days to fill an opening. In addition to the direct cost of replacing a solid employee, many employers may not be ready to face the subsequent indirect costs resulting from a position vacant for more than a month.
The question then becomes, rather than doing more with less, how do we inspire our key collaborators and reliable workers to do their most effective and productive work?
Revisit the skills of your existing team and empower their advancement. Hidden talents could be right under your nose.
We can become comfortable with our current roster of stars who consistently knock it out of the park in their respective departments. However, these proven professionals may have additional talents they are simply waiting for an opportunity to grow into something more. If you are unsure of where these undiscovered talents or aspirations to grow may lie, it is as simple as starting a conversation.
Ask your team what they enjoy the most about their work, what they would enjoy doing in the future, and what insights they have on improving existing processes. Perhaps there is an Administrative Assistant on your team going to school for English or marketing that would jump at the chance to prove his or her worth by taking over the social media accounts and blog for your organization. Examine existing processes and inspect backlogs to identify inefficiencies.
If you are currently putting off the evaluation of current processes until you have added more staff or until you have conquered the looming backlog of work, it is time to readjust your approach. Efficient, more productive workflows are critical in times of financial crunch and will ultimately result in saving your company time and money. Consider calling up temporary resources to assist with backlogs and “busy work.”
This frees up the time of key staff to work together in identifying deficiencies. Often, this approach will yield a quick boost to office morale too.
Continually strive to support and bolster morale.
As discussed above in the cost of hiring new employees, it is more critical than ever to retain your top talent. They are proven, loyal, and likely more dedicated than ever to the success of your business. In times of lean staff, it can be difficult to juggle requests for time off or absences due to illness. This struggle with staffing levels heightens during peak times. Ensuring your staff can take hard-earned and well-deserved time to recuperate and revitalize is imperative to keeping them motivated and engaged. Temporary staffing again can help. Temps can help cover summer vacations, power through busy seasons, and mitigate backlogged work which makes a world of difference in the morale of your own staff. Bringing in additional talent and resources demonstrates your investment in the satisfaction, health and well-being of your staff, in turn earning their dedication and loyalty to you.
This article first appeared in the January 2017 issue of STRIVE magazine.
About the Author
Paula Bradison is the Owner and CEO of BMG, a multi-disciplinary business management consulting firm focused on sustainability through the introduction of best business practices. While 22 years of her professional background has been rooted in healthcare, for the past 5 years she has focused her attention on a wide variety of professional service organizations including architecture, engineering, dentistry and benefits. Every project has been customized, with her expertise augmented with a robust roster of highly specialized sub-consultants so that deliverables are applied in a meaningful and reportable way.