Your workforce is one of the central factors in your organization’s ultimate success. In fact, some people insist that employees are more important than customers or clients.
Why? Because your workers will be interacting with your customers on the front lines, and if you treat your employees well, they’ll have more incentive to provide the best possible experience to potential clientele.
Beyond that, your workers are an investment. If you attract the best and manage to keep them on board and content, you’ll spend less on recruiting and training.
Having said that, it must be acknowledged that managing a workforce isn’t the easiest task. It requires time, effort, and sometimes further expenditures to ensure your workers are sufficiently trained and situated in the best possible way to perform for your firm.
If you’re a new entrepreneur, you’ll likely be filling the role of hiring manager -- at least temporarily -- and you may have to handle some of the toughest challenges faced by hiring and HR managers when you build and maintain your initial workforce.
The Biggest Problems to Watch Out For
These are some of the biggest and thorniest problems you’ll need to be ready to tackle when you step into your new role.
1. Choosing the right candidates. The first problem is also the first you’ll face chronologically: finding the best people to join your team. Assuming you have entry-level positions to fill, you’ll probably have many more applications and candidates than you have positions. At that point, your job becomes a balancing act: It’s unlikely you’re going to find a candidate with substantial experience, talent, passion, drive, commitment, at a reasonable price point, so you’ll have to set your priorities in a proactive manner, and identify the candidates who excel in areas you believe you will need the most.
2. Keeping track of employee availabilities. Next, if your company will operate in shifts, you’ll need to keep track of the availability of all your employees. Each one is apt to have different life conditions that prevent him or her from being available 24/7 (unless you find a leprechaun or genie who can work whenever). If you hire any more than three or four workers, you may wish to invest in employee scheduling software to keep everything in check.
3. Managing shift coverage. Managing shift coverage is a similar problem. Fortunately, it has a similar solution. The idea is to make sure all your shifts are sufficiently covered, balance total hours against total sales, and make sure your floor is adequately staffed at all times.
4. Minimizing turnover. Employee turnover can be one of the biggest expenses associated with a managed workforce. Every time you lose a worker, you’ll have to devote dozens of hours to scouting, hiring, and training a replacement, which can amount to as much as $10,000 in costs, even for a small operation. It’s better for your bottom line (and employee morale!) to keep your current workers as happy as possible. You can do that by giving them suitable benefits, rewarding their loyalty, and actively inquiring what can be done to make the work environment healthier and more productive for your team.
5. Ensuring punctuality and productivity. Once your shifts are covered in principle, the next challenge is to make sure your employees are on time and productive while they’re working. This is the duty of your operations manager (if you have one), but you can encourage positive behavior by rewarding top performers and identifying and warning slackers.
6. Balancing overtime and workload. Depending on your current employees and current needs, you may also need to balance overtime against individual employees’ workloads. You don’t want anyone to have too many or too few hours compared to the rest of the staff, and you certainly don’t want your workforce edging steadily into ongoing overtime work, which can run up your overhead. A solid employee scheduling software can help to mitigate this concern as well.
7. Adjusting the system. No matter how skillfully you plan your hiring and management process, it’s going to be imperfect in execution. The final challenge is to learn how to spot the missteps proactively, and adjust the system to continue to target your goals. Collect feedback you’re your employees whenever you can, and don’t be afraid to make some changes if your system appears to be flawed.
Can You Do It All Yourself?
After considering the above list of problems and thinking about having to manage an entire workforce, you might worry about whether it’s possible to do all this by yourself alongside all the other responsibilities of building a business.
Though conditions will vary from one firm to another, the short answer should be yes, you can handle these responsibilities alone during the early stages of your business. Others have done it, after all. But as you flesh out your staff, you’ll want someone else to step in, sooner or later; preferably someone with HR and hiring experience.
When you’re ready to hire that person, you’ll deal with the above problems for a last time. Sift your way through the available candidates, and find the perfect person take it from there.