Entrepreneurs

How To Scale Your Team For The Impending Customer Surge

To date, about 16% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Coupled with President Joe Biden’s announcement that he expects there to be enough vaccine doses for every U.S. adult by the end of May, and companies will likely see an uptick in consumer activity this summer.

With that surge in consumer demand likely to materialize in the coming months, companies and their employees need to be ready to go. Productivity, efficiency, and quality can’t afford to dip, meaning staff and employees need to be up to the task.

As business increases and the economy starts to return, in some ways, to pre-pandemic levels, preparations need to be made. The surest way to do that is to have enough qualified employees to guide you through the rush.

Build A Staff That Can Keep Up With Demand

Research shows that staying adequately staffed during peak periods can yield a 7% bump in sales and a 6% increase in profitability. Low-risk, cost-effective staffing practices can help businesses weather the anticipated influx of customers as the pandemic subsides. Here’s how you can prepare:

1. Explore temporary staffing options. COVID-19 forced many companies to get creative in terms of staffing. With nonessential businesses downsizing their teams in some cases and essentials ramping up, temporary staffers became stop-gap options for companies trying to remain operational.

Businesses preparing for an influx of customer activity would be wise to supplement their workflow with temporary staffers. According to Christine Proffitt, vice president of sales at Integrity Staffing Solutions, temporary workers are versatile options for any company trying to keep things flowing.

“Hiring a temporary worker isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor,” Proffitt said. “For example, you might want to hire a classic temporary worker who fulfills a role that’s needed for a specific length of time. … On the other hand, you might be more interested in a temp-to-hire candidate that enables you to test the applicant on the job.”

Assess your company’s short- and long-term needs and see how temporary workers can help. Sometimes they can be a means to an end; other times, these employees can become permanent solutions to your staffing needs.

2. Look to your team for referrals. According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, one new hire costs a company $4,425. That’s a sizable dent in your budget for a lone applicant, but it’s a blow that could be softened by looking to your current team to help identify potential hires.

When companies welcome candidate referrals from their team members, studies show that the applicants are of a higher quality. The pool of talent is more willing to listen to an offer and more likely to thrive in the company, should they come aboard. And they’re more likely to stay with the organization, helping retention and keeping hiring costs low.

Referrals usually come with more insight into what the company wants from a candidate and how they can fit in culturally. For employees, identifying a potential hire puts them out on a limb, so they’ll likely only send people that they’d feel comfortable staking their reputation on.

According to LinkedIn, the top way people find out about jobs is through referrals. When openings occur, loop in employees and ask them to pass along promising candidates. Develop a referral program that offers financial or growth incentives to spur team members into identifying talent that would be a good fit.

3. Use technology to recruit faster and better. Approximately 98% of Fortune 500 companies leverage some kind of recruiting software. Furthermore, 68% of all business leaders know that recruiting success in the next five years will come through technology investments. Staff up quickly and find high-quality candidates by leaning on the slew of available recruiting solutions.

Traditional sourcing avenues like job boards are still popular ways of identifying top talent. That said, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are quickly becoming valued assets in the pursuit of top-flight talent. About 63% of recruiters report AI has impacted their companies’ recruiting, and more than half of those respondents say the technology helps them recruit more efficiently.

AI and machine learning are permeating several industries, providing convenience and clarity along the way. According to Mark Brandau, a principal analyst on Forrester’s CIO team, it’s a wave that will pick up even more momentum.

“All vendors are moving in that direction without question,” Brandau said. “It’s the way of the future.”

As you ramp up your hiring in anticipation of increased demand, look for bottlenecks in the process. Whether it’s sourcing, candidate outreach, or even the candidate experience, find ways to improve it via AI. The technology should make your process faster and enable your company to keep up with its needs going forward.

While the pre-pandemic status quo might not return in full, the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines means more traditional consumer activities will rebound. Make sure your team is up to the task of handling it all. Look at all staffing options (including temporary ones), leverage referrals, and lean on hiring technology to quickly fill your team out to prepare for the coming surge.

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