Olga Yung is a regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong in charge of the legal, technology, and property & construction practices.
Use temps to cut workloads and retain staff when budgets are tight
I run a small office in a medium-sized advertising company with a presence across Asia. We’re short staffed and constantly busy, but keep turning out quality work. Recently, our head office tightened their budget and froze hiring, despite an increasing workload. Employees are starting to reach breaking point and I’m struggling to work out how I can hold the team together. One person has already resigned and others are talking about it. Any ideas?
We quite often see Michael Page clients suffering similar situations, especially when headcount and budget are an issue. One of my suggestions would be to employ temporary contractors to ease the workload. This would help to relieve the pressure on your already overworked staff.
Recruitment agencies can take on the headcount for you, and a secondment arrangement for these contractors can be arranged to suit your needs. As a result, there would be no impact on the staffing numbers of your current company, and yet you would have the opportunity to take on new employees.
Taking on temporary staff also means you have the ability to hire junior candidates, which allows costs to be minimised during budget cuts.
Alternatively, you could take advantage of the university summer break, in which many students and fresh graduates would be happy to join a company voluntarily or at minimum wage, so they can learn about their chosen field and gain work experience.
This will also allow costs to be kept to a bare minimum, although a short term increase in headcount would need to be factored in. You’ll be allowing eager young professionals to gain valuable knowledge and skills that they can add to their resume, whilst also solving your headcount issue in the short term.
Finally, it is important for you to communicate with senior management regarding workload and understaffing. It is crucial that they understand that the office is short on staff, as this is ultimately detrimental to existing staff in the long term. Staff turnover can be very demotivating for employees, which doesn’t boost staff morale or create a good working environment. Employees who are consistently overworked and underpaid will factor that into their decision-making process when considering their future at a company. Most senior management teams will look into this issue once a valid concern and case is raised.
If you’re an employer, you need to consider and communicate your long-term staff retention plans to offset resignations and make sure you retain employee loyalty.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Understaffed and overloaded? Bring in the temps!