The current situation is challenging - on one hand, inflation and the deepening crisis leading many branches of business beginning to feel negative effects of this situation. On the other hand, many specialists predict an imminent recession and further consequences. If you are in the group that is not yet feeling strong negative effects, but you need additional hands to work, then, surely, you are asking yourself now: to hire or not to hire?
Is the employment the only option? There are several aspects to consider, including how long the implementation will take, whether the potential employee's duties are a new area of activity or whether it is simply to relieve the burden of other employees. If you want to support employees, it may be worth to consider trying something else?
Before we move to that, let's answer the question: what makes it easier for current employees to take on new responsibilities, assuming that there is a good motivation?
Probably on your list there were such points as: they know the company and the people working there, they have knowledge of who is responsible for certain areas of operation. Why not take advantage of this? The main question is: how can this be done? Since you are considering a new person who will be able to relieve current employees, you should consider doing something different before hiring new ones which is, after all, a long-term and expensive commitment. You need to review tasks being performed and check if there is a room to optimize operations – crucial part of a process approach to work.
The question that surely arises in your mind is: But how? After all, you have so much work that you can barely make it and now you need to take a break for a review?
I'll do it myself idea may spark in your mind. This moment is critical - although it is tempting, you should not go down this path. What you need is to take an independent view and assemble a team that is responsible for the process - they are the specialists and will be able to help you effectively find the space for change. In addition, the involvement of the team can work wonders when it comes to making such a change run smoothly.
Let’s see an example which illustrates how to approach this topic differently.
Small, family-owned company - running a highly specialized service. A total of a dozen people. Processes were supposedly optimized, after all, it had always been the case that the customer would deliver the equipment, the paperwork would be filled out, the repair would be done, and the customer would be informed that the equipment could be picked up. What's complicated about that? The people responsible for the first contact with the customer began to turnover, service times began to increase, and customers were not happy about it. Negative reviews began to appear on the Internet, the number of customers stopped growing, the stress due to customer pressure caused less productivity for absolutely everyone on the team. The idea came up to hire a new, additional person to verify the status of customer cases and to monitor individuals for given issues. However, here we get back to the question whether to hire in such a time, is it really a good idea to increase the costs?
The solution was to introduce a change at the communication level. The company relied on emails, and when it came to this aspect - employees found it difficult to go back to messages once they had been read (well, who remembers about them when there are so many things to do) therefore, operations soon started to look like extinguishing fire - action was taken in place where the flames were the strongest. This model, unfortunately, spread unnoticed in the company like a virus and began to take its toll.
After reviewing this case, the service department stopped for a day to do a quick check-up. We traced the process, which at that point took an average of 22 calendar days - we also verified that historically it was about 16 days. We carefully described the next steps and determined who was responsible for them, or which people usually performed this step - this created groups from which the appropriate people could be selected and who would be notified when a new request came in.
By implementing this process in the application, it was possible to switch from communication via email to communication directly within a given application - from now on, finding any information on a given application was instantaneous and did not require inquiring, sending and replying to emails. This change reduced the average turnaround time for this process to just 12 calendar days in the first month of operation of the new system - such good lead-times have never been seen before.
Just in the first month, positive online reviews began to appear from satisfied customers, and their number began to grow again. The comfort level improved and employees could catch their breath.
After the 2nd month, the employees themselves began to notice what else could be improved with the Fortask app - customers didn't call with complaints and everyone began to work as if it there was less workload - even in such demanding times. The employee at the equipment reception desk at the time of writing of this article has been working for 5 months and feels tremendous satisfaction, as he can answer all the questions regarding customer's case within the same conversation. This is a sign of good organization and professionalism, which has a soothing effect on all customers.
Other improvements that have been implemented included vacations, as well as the knowledge database creation. In addition, a separate path was created for one group of serviced equipment which included a more detailed breakdown of the steps required to properly complete the process. Currently, this company is considering building its own knowledge database through which all employees' knowledge would be consolidated which would allow faster and more efficient retrieval of relevant information and easier learning of new things in case of employees’ promotion or substitution.
All in less than 3 months - the employees have an additional bonus for the quality of their work which even combined with the cost of the software is less than the cost of a new employee, who in would not possibly bring as much positivity to the company. The owner could start spending less time in the office while maintaining control of the company's operations. Checking the average turnaround time of a request, after 3 months of using the system this time dropped to just 10 calendar days.
If you see similarities of this story with what's going on in your company - we would like to invite you to get in contact with us. We'd be happy to talk about how Fortask and our specialists can help you to improve your business or the department you run.