Every manager has the same goal: to have just the right number of people on staff to keep up with the workload. When demands are growing, though, it can be difficult to know what to do. Is it time to hire, or should existing employees be asked to take on more?
Most companies experience the same situations when they’re understaffed. Here are eight common signs that it’s time to hire:
1. Top employees are struggling: Every team has its go-to people –– those reliable individuals who always exceed expectations. Supervisors may notice these top performers are missing deadlines or asking for extensions with their projects. If the best-of-the-best can’t keep up with workloads, chances are the entire team is sinking under the pressure.
2. Growth isn’t good news: Business is booming and the company is set to open 20 new offices in the next year. However, no one is happy, including department leaders. Instead, the overwhelming thought is worry about the impact of that growth. How will employees keep up? Expansion should bring smiles, not feelings of anxiety.
3. Opportunities are turned down: The money is there to market to new clients, upgrade outdated technology and make other changes that support the business, but people prefer the status quo. Managers opt not to take advantage of improved finances by making changes because there simply aren’t enough employees to handle those changes.
4. Managers are juggling multiple jobs: The team is at its breaking point, so supervisors are stepping in to help. Instead of focusing entirely on management issues, leaders are seen at the copy machine, answering phones and finishing reports for staff. Throw in an employee absence or two and managers are in a real bind. They may never get to their own work.
5. Overtime is the norm: Overtime isn’t a problem when it’s occasional, but it can be when it’s no longer tied to peak seasons or big projects. If supervisors regularly receive emails from employees in the evening or on weekends — and often respond back immediately because they’re working too — that can be a major red flag that it’s time to hire.
6. Complaints are on the rise: Unexpected delays, lack of responsiveness and poor-quality work are becoming noticeable. Managers are starting to hear complaints from internal staff and clients that their employees aren’t meeting standards. In fact, the company may already be losing business because personnel are stretched too thin and can’t keep up with demands.
7. Mistakes are commonplace: There is so much to do that employees are producing as much as they can, as quickly as they can — with the end result being lot of mistakes. People who are in a rush to check off items on their ever-growing to-do lists won’t pay attention to detail. Unless mistakes are normally par for the course, this is a clear sign it’s time to hire.
8. Employees are out sick more often: Finally, supervisors should watch for the personal impact of stress and burnout on staff. There may be a noticeable uptick in the use of sick days. Employees may not necessarily be using the time to relax, either. Those who’ve been asked to give 110 percent for too long may feel the impact on their health, being more susceptible to colds and ailments.
Robert Hosking is executive director of staffing firm OfficeTeam. He can be reached at editor@Talentmgt.com.