How to Determine Staffing Needs

by Lisa McQuerrey; Updated September 26, 2017
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Hiring employees, training them and then appropriately allocating your human resources in an efficient manner can help your business run smoothly and be profitable. Knowledge of individual employee skills and an understanding of busy shifts and times are essential to calculate staffing needs. You need to have enough employees so your business runs as needed without wasting funds on staff overages -- and without operating with too few employees.

Know Your Business Needs

Every business has ebbs and flows, and studying customer traffic patterns can help you determine appropriate staffing levels. You might have to make estimates for staffing needs if you're opening a new business and track customer volume thereafter to tweak your staffing to meet demand. For example, you might need twice as many restaurant staffers on weekends and on Wednesday night when you run a dinner special, but you can get by with a skeleton crew on other weeknights.

Observe Employees

Pay close attention to employees as they work to determine if they seem stressed or overburdened with their workload or if they have a good deal of downtime in which their productivity lags. Ask managers to report on staff efficiency to ensure essential tasks are being completed in line with your expectations and that all elements of the shift are being completed on time and as necessary. Add staff members if necessary to improve quality, output or service and consider reducing hours or eliminating personnel if positions become redundant or unnecessary.

Get Feedback

Talk to staff members and customers to get a feel for how staffing in your business is perceived. For example, if customers at your retail center complain about long waits at cash registers or employees express concern about regularly staying late or performing double duty, it's time to re-evaluate your work force. If employees feel challenged but not overburdened and customers are happy with the degree of care they’re receiving from your business establishment, it means your staffing is on track.

Downside to Miscalculating Staffing

If you don't have enough qualified people staffing your operation to effectively serve customers or otherwise take care of key business functions, it can hurt you in several ways. You may inadvertently provide poor levels of customer service, important elements of your operation may be overlooked or underperformed and your ability to generate repeat business could be affected. Having too many employees on board can result in a waste of resources if you're paying several people for the work one person could do on her own. Continually re-evaluating your business needs and your staffing can help ensure you maintain an appropriate number of people to meet your business needs.

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