If you’ve hired anyone recently, you know that hiring isn’t fun right now.  Unemployment is under 4% in the Triangle.  Unemployment hovers just above 200,000, a historically low range.  Some industries have even tighter employment markets than these numbers.  If you need a skillset, then the people with that skillset are working for somebody else already.

There are some great suggestions on hiring that you’ve probably already read.  Write better job descriptions.  Speed up your hiring process.  Build your brand as a great employer.  If you haven’t done these, they’re absolutely worth the effort.  But if you have, and they didn’t work, what comes next?

Here are three things you can do besides hiring in desperation – which will lead to poor job fits, unsustainable salaries and business culture disasters.

Be More Efficient – When people get overworked, they become less efficient.  They don’t have time to plan or document their work.  They don’t double check their work.  And they move so quickly from one task to another that they forget important context and have to constantly refamiliarize themselves with situations before they can solve problems.

Ask your employees to build a list of things they do every day that they’d like to quit doing.  Tell them to focus on (a) tasks that they think have limited value, and (b) work they don’t directly see being used every day.  Then, ask managers if they see strong value in each of these tasks.

If you haven’t done this in a while, the odds are good that you’ll discover at least a dozen tasks that are providing little or no benefit to the company.  That’s free time, which is invaluable when you’re up against deadlines.

Also ask your employees to write down a list of the most commonly performed tasks that they don’t have documented.  If multiple employees mention the same task, the odds are good that they’re completing it differently – and that neither of them are doing it in the most efficient way possible.  Optimizing a handful of recurring tasks can save hours a week, and it will also prevent problems that cost time later when you have to go fix them.

Build Your Own Team

In most industries, new employees reduce your team’s productivity before they increase it.  Some jobs can be performed after a single day of orientation and training.  Many more take weeks or months of training, which is performed by supervisors that could be contributing to the pile of excess work coming into your doors.

Despite all of this, there are still major advantages to hiring employees that are early in their career and investing in training them yourself.  The benefits aren’t just financial, either.  These employees are less likely to be happily employed at one of your competitors.  They won’t be in a non-compete.  You also won’t have to “untrain and retrain” so they will follow your processes. 

The first few weeks might be hectic as you get up to speed, especially if you aren’t accustomed to hiring employees without years of experience in the industry.  But if you have a strong task apportioning process in place, they can take less complex tasks off of your existing staff, freeing them up to spend more time on the most challenging work.

Specialize and Optimize

During economically challenging times, you take the work you can get.  This might mean saying yes to projects that you wouldn’t typically accept.  That can lead to repeat business from the customer, or to referrals for similar types of business.  While it’s nice to have the extra revenue during lean times, this work can be a low-margin distraction when your employees are overburdened with work.

It’s not a good idea to leave an existing customer hanging when they come to you for help.  But if your team is over-worked, that’s a great time to refocus on your core business, politely declining referrals outside of your core expertise.  In some cases, you might even need to decline business from former customers.  In either case, make sure that you are able to refer them to another company who would be thrilled to have their business.  Make sure the company you’re referring the business to understands that, as long as you keep hearing great things about the work they’re performing for your referrals, those referrals will keep coming.

To learn how WingSwept can help your company leverage technology to achieve better results, call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.