It does not matter what a business does, finding the optimum staffing level is a challenge for every business. Hiring too many workers and then having them idle part of the time may cost more than hiring too few. With too few workers, however, the cost mounts when productivity suffers or the best producers move on to less stressful jobs.

So, how do you go about developing a staffing strategy that not only controls costs but gives you a competitive edge?

The Difference between Recruitment & Staffing

First of all, don’t confuse recruitment with staffing. Recruitment is a specific, single step that involves employing specific people for specific roles. Staffing, on the other hand, is an ongoing process that should be a part of your overall strategic planning.

Staffing level needs tend to ebb and flow in most businesses. Certain core skill sets are required on an ongoing basis. Others are necessary part of the time, either seasonally (like additional help in accounting firms during tax season), or temporarily, (like filling in for someone on leave or hiring workers for a specific, short-term project).

Determine Business Goals

If you understand staffing needs as part of your overall business goals, you will staff your business in terms of both your long and short-term goals. This allows you to create the correct mix of permanent, part-time, and contract employees who are best suited to your various goals.

Whether you are looking to expand into new sectors, launch new products, or grow through acquisition, the skills required change according to the goal. And, often, so do the people.

Develop a Staffing Strategy

The first step in developing a staffing strategy is to thoroughly understand the skills, experience, and resources required to meet your goals.

If it’s a new goal potentially requiring additional staff, establish how much of that staff you will need for only a short time. Also consider whether or not you have the people within your business or project who have all the necessary skills, experience, and availability to work on the project. The best approach may be to staff the project with a mix of employees and contract people.

If you run a small business that requires more people for only a month or two, it makes sense to seek help from a staffing firm rather than to go to the expense of hiring people who you will then lay off.

For specific short-term goals, it makes sense to use a mix of people that includes contract staff. With contract staff, the person remains an employee of the staffing company and you know exactly how much they will cost for the period they are needed. You are not responsible for employee benefits. Only for paying an invoice. When the person is no longer needed, no additional expenses are incurred.

In today’s world, businesses can slice and dice data every which way, but unless there are clear objectives, the right staffing levels, and the right skills, all the data in the world will not help a business to thrive.