Workforce Planning for Small Business During the Pandemic

Written by: The Yass Phoenix

Workforce Planning for Small Business During the Pandemic

Workforce planning is all about having the “right people, in the right place, with the right capabilities at the right time”. It’s a crucial management function that takes place in both the private and public sectors.

The following outlines a proposed workforce planning process for a small business owner (in this example a rural coffee shop).


  • Identify the overarching goals of your business (e.g., “To achieve a flourishing business with regular customers” or “To deliver the best coffee in town by employing locals with excellent customer service skills” or “To make a sustainable living and contribute to my town”).
  • Identify the job roles that your business needs during “business as usual” times (e.g., baristas, cashiers, cooks, cleaners, managers (finance and personnel)).
  • Identify the qualifications and on-the-job training required by each job role.
  • Identify the number of staff required in each job role.
  • Consider how you will attract and recruit your staff, for example, local advertisements, work experience opportunities for Year 10 & 12 students.
  • Consider alternate ways to deliver your business services if/when lockdown is announced (e.g., coffee cart, service through window hatch, home delivery).
  • If you need to temporarily downsize during lockdown, identify the job roles you will retain and those that will be furloughed.


  • Recruit staff that reflect the diversity of your community in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.
  • Ensure all employees fulfil legislative requirements in terms of food handling and health and safety regulations.
  • Encourage staff to be vaccinated against the common flu and COVID-19.
  • Seek to create a positive work environment by being a great manager. Take a yearly management course.


  • Acknowledge that it’s financially and socially difficult for furloughed staff. Maintain ongoing positive relationships with these staff by sending them regular updates along with vouchers for free coffee, etc.
  • Listen to the concerns of staff retained during lockdown – what you are listening for is whether their workloads have increased or decreased and how they are managing the stresses and strains of the pandemic.

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