By Vikas Dua

In many interactions within my professional network, I get to hear that team managers are ‘short-staffed’. In effect, what they are communicating is that they are over-worked and under stress because of having lesser than what they consider to be the optimum manpower available to them for effective discharge of their duties.

In fact, I am yet to find someone who says – “I have extra people at my disposal”.

This made me deliberate – Is it typical human behavior to desire more resources at hand? In a services business where ‘People’ are the key ‘resource’, does this imply more authority, more control, more power? Or is this a genuine plea for assistance?

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You may correct me if I am wrong but having been a part of very large organisations for over a decade, I can confidently say that there are peaks and troughs in any business. Which means that there are periods of stretch and at other times, employees are able to have a reasonably comfortable pace of operating. Even during the peaks, there are teams that see higher activity purely because of their role while other teams may not get directly impacted.

So, as a leader who needs to answer the afore-mentioned questions and take an informed business call, how should you plan for such scenarios?

I would recommend the below:

  1. Workforce planning – Accurate workforce planning backed by right job role study can help mitigate a staffing issue to a large extent, unless your business sees a lot of fluctuations in transactions.
  2. Cross train & cross utilize – Large organisations must create fungible roles to ensure more effective manpower utilization. Can a single resource in a customer service role handle both voice calls and also resolve queries on a chat platform? Surely, provided the hiring and training specs are designed keeping this objective in mind.
  3. Leverage technology – ever since machines came into existence in farms and transformed farming, technology has continued to evolve and take over tasks that humans have been performing with higher output and greater precision. And yes, mostly, machines don’t need to sleep!
  4. Simplify – This must be a key central theme – as organizations grow, the tendency is to add processes and platforms on top of existing ones. More often than not, they turn into elephants and complicate business transactions rather than aid more efficiency in the value chain. Cut out the Non Value Adds!

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Some of these done regularly and with the right amount of governance can ensure that the business manager pre-empts such staffing challenges and the team is able to deliver effectively.

And finally, after that period of ‘stretch’ which will invariably happen, the manager must ensure he/she celebrates with the team, appreciates the hardwork and motivates them for future troughs!

For more information on people and people practices, Follow me on Twitter @vykasdua 

Vikas DuaVikas Dua is Senior Group Leader – HR at Concentrix, a global BPM leader. He has over 16 years of diverse talent acquisition experience across service sectors like hospitality, ITeS and education. Having done volume hiring, campus recruitment, lateral hiring, talent acquisition analytics and new hire on-boarding, Vikas is a well-rounded TA specialist.