Thursday, 14 May 2015

How to Staff for the Workload

Staffing for a given workload is very complicated. Yet covering the workload is the whole point of work. You want people there when they are needed. So how do you do it?
If the workload is flat, that is it doesn’t change from hour to hour, then you can have flat staffing. So you work out how many people you need and ensure that you always have that number. If the workload doesn't require a whole number of people then you either;
  • need to find other work for them to do in the downtime,
  • or understaff,
  • or understaff part of the time,
  • or overstaff and just have people there even when you don't need them.
If the workload changes, you have to decide how to change the staffing levels along with that fluctuation. Do you want that change to happen
  • ahead of the increase and decline after the work starts to reduce,
  • or after the increase and before the decline.

The image above shows a variable workload (yellow). You can either staff under the workload (pale green) and go short or you can overstaff (turquoise) and have people sat around but always know your workload is covered.
It depends what sort of operation you are managing, e.g. complaints line. If you miss a call, it is not going to be the end of the world. So you would staff to the pale green line. However if you were the 999 service, then you need to have someone there to answer the phone. Each missed call is a matter of life or death, so you over staff (turquoise) because the cost of having someone sat around for five minutes twiddling their thumbs is a lot lower than missing a call.
Once you have decided, you need to set up the shifts to match your staffing levels. Saving just one man hour per day is the equivalent of 1/5 of a person. To find out more about staffing to the workload visit our website

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