Workforce Planning for Small Business During the Pandemic

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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).

Thinking

  • 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.

Doing

  • 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.

Talking

  • 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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