Question: We’re entering another busy season and increasing staffing. I’m thinking ahead to when things will slow down again. It’s a waste to just cut people when the season is over. And after we let them go there will be another busy season requiring effort all over again to recruit, check backgrounds, process hiring paperwork and then train. It’s more than just picking people up off the street.
Thoughts of the day: Look carefully at the cycles and what can be done in the slow periods that would make good use of the talent you have. Pick the best and brightest to add to your workforce permanently. Consider flextime to help with the peaks and valleys. Build as much routine as possible into hiring cycles. Consider staffing firms and job fairs to meet short-term hiring needs. Ensure that sales are growing each year, making the following year’s valleys smaller.
Plan through the cycles on an upward trajectory. Each year as the business grows you’ll need more people in your down cycles. That means it’s possible to keep some of the people who come to work temporarily in a busy season.
Figure out how many people you’ll need a year from now, assuming sales goals are hit. Identify the best performers in the seasonal workforce. Look for ambition, drive and ability to learn new things. Approach people individually about staying on. Offer part-time hours to those who can’t work a full schedule.
Once past the busy season, if things slow down more than expected, ask who is interested in part-time work. One thing millennials prize is their free time. Some workers may have flexibility at allowing them to cut back. For some, a 20- to 30-hour work week until things pick up might be preferable to losing the job altogether. Determine stay versus termination based on quality of work, volunteers and then last in, first out.
When it’s time to increase staff, look at other competing hiring cycles. For example, January through April of every year, accounting firms hire temporary staff for tax time. Know who you are competing with for your temporary workforce. Hire a little earlier than any other competitor. Even a week or two can give you a leg up with the most eager candidates.
Lay out a recruiting schedule anyone can follow next year — when to place ads, when to start interviews, when to check on the number of candidates hired versus the number needed. Know when it’s time to ramp up things if you’re behind.
Consider working with a staffing company that can do a lot of the legwork for you. Notify them of your needs and let them get to work lining up candidates. They handle all the paperwork and the payroll for a fee. When it’s time to cut back, just make a call to say that the season’s over. The staffing firm takes over helping workers find other jobs.
Consider holding job fairs. Publish the date, time and location in the local paper as well as online. On the day of the fair get attendees to hand in resumes, fill out applications, go through interviews, complete paperwork for background checks, etc. Have your staff on hand to promote the company, conduct interviews and make offers pending final review of all paperwork. Ask the best candidates to fill out hiring paperwork before they leave. Move people you hire immediately into training so they don’t lose interest.
Remember the earlier comment about a growing company having an upward trajectory for its workforce? While things are at their busiest, make sure your salespeople keep working on the next round of growth. Consider moving some of your temporary workers into sales and customer service support positions when things slow down. Do everything possible to ensure the company has a steady growth track.
Looking for a good book? Try “Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting & Orienting New Employees” by Diane Arthur.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached by phone at 877-238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Send it via email to AskAndi@strategyleaders. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of Ask Andi articles.