Strategic Staffing - When Turnover is a Good Thing
As a manager or small business owner we’re trained to avoid staff turnover. It’s expensive to hire and train new employees, and the lost knowledge and experience can set a team back. The change in staff dynamics and morale is also hard to predict. But this “bad” thing, can be a chance to make some positive changes.
In my experience as a manager of a small business, it’s those negative possibilities that typically make staff turnover a good time to take a short pause to review the staff structure as a whole. Naturally this presents the typical opportunities to promote someone to fill the void, but sometimes there can be an even bigger opportunity for change…can you combine or divide positions? Can you reallocate job duties? Is it time to outsource something like custodial or bookkeeping duties?
Here is a specific example. While I was the Executive Director of an arts center, we had a crew of half a dozen house managers to oversee the box office, ushers, and concessions during events. These jobs were very part time and fairly seasonal as well. That meant that everyone had another job and we were the second or even third priority. With those other commitments, we had to hire more part time staff, so there were even fewer shifts, continuing the negative loop.
When a staffer left, and I knew another was about to, I took a step back to re-assess the situation. I took a chance. Rather than hire two people I decided to combine those two open spots with one that was currently filled by a very capable young man. I was nervous, no doubt, but I could not have been more pleased with the results. This newly enhanced role filled by a responsible and passionate person was a total WIN. He was able to better train (and more importantly follow through on that training) with our usher corps. He scheduled the other house managers and covered open shifts. He updated our concession offerings because he had conversations with people in line…the profit margins went up too. He learned more about the hardware and software in the box office too, meaning I got fewer calls for help.
In the end this positive change came about from staff turnover. We had better service, higher profit margins, and more engaged staff.
What opportunities can you create?
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