When running a business, it is important to make sure you have enough employees working at any given time to meet both your needs and those of your customers. At the same time, having too many employees on the clock results in wasted money and people being idle on company time.

This is where a staffing model comes into play; it helps you to determine the ideal number of employees to be working at any given time to keep things moving without giving your workers too little to do. By building a model for your staffing needs, you will have an easy reference as schedules change in the future.

What Is a Staffing Plan? What Is a Staffing Model?

You may hear some people use the terms "staffing plan" and "staffing model" interchangeably. While both serve a similar function, there are some differences between staffing plans and staffing models that you should be aware of.

A staffing plan is an actionable plan by which your company can ensure that it has enough employees to meet its needs and that those employees are properly trained and have the resources needed to perform their jobs. Key components of a staffing plan include:

  • Productivity statistics.
  • Average worker efficiency.
  • The approximate number of employees required for full business function.
  • Training times required to learn systems and workflow.
  • How many employees are currently required to reach full staff capacity.

A staffing model, on the other hand, is a guideline by which you can determine the staffing needs of your company. While staffing models may take some of the same factors into account as a staffing plan, the model does not rely as much on specifics because it is intended to be applicable at any time and not just in the current situation. Essentially, a staffing model is the framework that you will use to create a staffing plan.

Developing a Staffing Model

There are a few different ways that you can develop a staffing model, and some industries have specific model designs that they rely on because of the specific needs of the work that they do. This makes sense when you think about it: An emergency room's staffing model would not be the same as the staffing model for a factory that operates only two shifts during the day. Likewise, neither of these would use the same model as a university department at a small private school.

To develop your staffing model, consider the following:

  • How many employees do you currently keep on the clock at any given time during the day? How much idle time do those employees have on average per shift?
  • Do you have the same amount of employee demand throughout a shift or are there times when employees are busier than others?
  • How much growth or shrinkage has your business seen in the past year? In the past two years? In the past five years?
  • How many specialty employees do you have on staff, and how many general employees? Is there an apparent shortage of either employee type?
  • Does your company have expansion plans within the next year that would require additional employees or new types of specialty employees? Are there plans further out than a year?

Using these questions, create a general staffing timeline that shows the busy periods during a given day and the slow periods. Identify the number of employees that are required to meet staffing needs during both of these times, breaking it down into categories such as management, specialty employees and general employees.

You should also develop projections based on growth or shrinkage rates and future expansion plans, using a multi-year view of growth or shrinkage to determine an average growth rate for your projections. This creates a model that not only helps you develop staffing plans and schedules now, but that will also help predict when new hires or staffing expansions might be required to keep up with demand.

Making Model Adjustments

A staffing model is not a static document that you can create and then use indefinitely. While you can create a staffing strategies PDF or other guideline document based on your model, you should still review the model every six to 12 months to ensure that projections are still on course. If the amount of business your company does changes or new projects are implemented that will cause unplanned-for expansions, your model will need to reflect these changes. By updating your staffing model on a regular basis, you can help ensure that your company is never left understaffed for long.