Improving your staff's productivity and efficiency is difficult when there are so few of you. That doesn’t mean it isn’t impossible to delegate work in a way that compensates for being short-staffed, but sooner or later, you’ll need to find the right sales structure for balance or hire more employees, or you risk burnout.
Hiring employees may be the best option if you’re experiencing a sudden influx of work. There's also the option for leased employees, who can be placed as temporary workers and don’t require you to handle their HR or payroll employment duties.
First, let’s take a look at how your company can stay productive without hiring more employees. Then, we’ll show you the telltale signs of when it’s time to take the outsourcing plunge.
8 Tips for Managing Workflow with Limited Employees
It’s possible, and practically inevitable that your small staff will need to use at least one of the following time savers to ensure customer needs are met. If you’re struggling to implement these measures, it may be time to consider hiring leased employees.
1. Plan and Adjust Accordingly
Create a plan in place that walks through the entire process of the project. With a detailed list of tasks, and procedures, each team member will know what’s next and who’s falling behind.
If a part of the project can’t start without the completion of another, your team members can help each other get back on track. If becoming overwhelmed happens consistently, adjust who handles which role, the amount of time it takes to finish a project, or hire extra team members at crunch time.
2. Encourage Open Communication
Tell your staff that open communication is necessary to ensure company success and that they won’t be penalized for being honest. Your staff wants to produce good work in a timely way, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. If they need extra time or hands on a project, they should be able to communicate this to you, upper management, or their team members immediately.
3. Cross-Train Multiple Employees
One of the problems with a small staff is that the synergy can fall apart if someone takes a sick day or an extended vacation. To account for this, cross-train your employees so that most of them can take over multiple roles seamlessly. Cross-training will ensure that a slowdown is less likely to occur provided that the employee that left completed some of their workload.
4. Keep You Team Balanced
Cross-training your staff is essential, but a good team balance can make or break a project. Ask your team in advance when they want to take vacations, so you can plan accordingly. It’s also vital to keep employees who have multiple talents as full-time workers.
If you need to have some of your talent accessible at any time, work out the details with them and include an incentive for being available, like extra pay, holidays, or days/evenings off.
5. Have Regular Meetings
In the past, the thought of daily meetings sent a shiver down our spines, but the pandemic proved how important regular check-ins could be.
Work-from-home solutions that allow for virtual and text communication have eliminated the need for commuting to the office. A quick 30-minute meeting can play a role in team building, prioritizing tasks, and hitting deadlines.
6. Prioritize Tasks
It’s important that your employees don’t get so caught up in the minor details that they lose track of the bigger picture. Otherwise, you’ll waste time. Task prioritization is essential when you have a high workload, so is understanding when to move on from a task before it becomes a timesink. Low-priority actions need to be placed on the backburner as quickly as possible.
7. Implement a CRM
An easy way to prioritize tasks is by implementing a CRM. You can use the platform to show how close your team is to completing tasks, milestones, and projects. Salespeople can keep track of prospects' contact information, keep notes on conversations, and set alerts for next steps in the sales process. CRMs also help you to eliminate preparing for monthly forecasts reports.
8. Create a Redundancy/Retrenchment Plan
Dismissal due to economic upheaval is an unfortunate part of owning a business. When this happens, your workload suffers the longer it takes to find a replacement for this role. If you create a redundancy plan, you will be able to keep the process flowing if the worst occurs.
Decide whether or not you want to outsource or hire in-house/remote staff members. Have a list of names or agencies you’ve already vetted, so you can call on them at a moment's notice.
How to Know When to Hire More People
When you’re in crisis mode, it’s tempting to stick it out until the last possible moment. Maybe if your team works those few extra hours, you'll meet the deadline, but it’s a bad idea to make this line of thinking a habit.
If you’re constantly overworking your employees, they’ll call in sick more often, underperform, or worse, quit. It’s best to prepare before that happens.
Besides the obvious signs of burnout like falling behind on projects, losing clients, or staffing unhappy employees, there are other things that confirm you need help from leased employees.
- Employees aren’t able to finish projects in the typically requested deadline either because they are understaffed, inexperienced, or don’t get along with the team.
- You took on a project that seemed in the wheelhouse of an employee, but their experience didn’t include a specific specialty associated with their job title.
- A member of your team quit or fell ill unexpectedly, and none of your employees are cross-trained in that subject, or there isn’t enough time to teach someone the role.
- Your administrative burdens are too significant because you expanded too quickly. You also don’t want to hire another employee, as that burden will become worse.
- You’re interested in onboarding more people, but you don’t have the time to interview or go through an extended trial period to find the right candidate for the position.
Although hiring remote workers or subcontractors are other terrific options, you still need to go through an interview process, onboarding, and training.
Optimize Your Workflow with the Help of Your Employees
If you’re not operating at full capacity and need to outsource continuously, it may be time to implement a growth model and sales funnel. Eventually, you’ll have to turn away clients, which will make it impossible for you to scale. During your next quiet period, consider hiring long-term, permanently onboarding your leased employees, or put your trust in remote workers.
In the meantime, implement our workflow tips to get through a busy period or a sudden influx of work. With some extra planning and rock-solid management, you’ll come out the other side.