Let’s Talk Overstaffing

July 3, 2012 2 Comments

Blog Editor Allen F. Weitzel has been a trailblazer in the recreation field for 45 seasons, most recently leading the safety and training department at a California amusement park for 25 seasons.

By Allen F. Weitzel

 

An industry chat group recently broached the subject of overstaffing.  Is there such a thing?  Is correct staffing an easy thing to do?  Let us take a minute to address staffing and scheduling.

 

Surprise Productivity

 

During my career in the amusement industry, I only encountered one instance where the staffing levels matched the income, resulting in ideal productivity.  I was in charge of the construction of a new remote-a-boat operation at a park where I was employed.  Shortly before we opened to the public, we had the pond framed in, but there was no water in the pond.  We had no gags or pond obstacles in place, and the boats were in storage.  An “Attraction Closed” sign and chain hung across the front.  We did have the coin-operated consoles in place, but no boat steering wheels were on the consoles.  We were two weeks away from opening, and I received a call from Joan in Accounting, asking me if I was in charge of the remote-a-boats.  I said I was.  She asked to what account number I wanted the $36 credited.  I asked what $36.00?  She said a rookie cash control employee had emptied the coin drawers in the boat consoles; not knowing the attraction was non-operational.  That employee collected $36 on a closed attraction.  Therefore, 144 guests played the remote-a-boats with no water in the pond and no boats in sight, and having to cross an “attraction closed” sign and chain to get to it.  We received no refund complaints during that time.  Obviously, the Guests saw a coin console and put coins in, only to realize there was nothing happening.  Most likely they were too embarrassed to complain.  It was an interesting example of perfect staffing for the proper income.

 

Managers will not always have income fall in their lap.  Proper staffing is not simple. 

 

Quick Lesson Plan

 

I cannot list every staffing issue and address it, but this list should give you some ideas that might help improve your staffing and scheduling skills.

  • The middle day of a three-day holiday weekend is the busiest.  Crowds slow down by mid-afternoon of the third day.
  • It is much easier to be well-staffed in advance for a busy day, and cut back if necessary, than it is to scramble to find workers at the last minute.
  • When you schedule or cut labor, seek advice from the line supervisors as they are the ones that are most affected if you over-schedule or cut too deep in the wrong areas.
  • Some facilities pay an on-call premium.  If an employee is not scheduled and then called into work that same day, they receive a higher hourly pay rate for that shift.  Check with your legal counsel or human resources department before establishing this procedure.
  • Use extra staff during slow periods to do cleaning, restocking or to perform cross-training.
  • Stagger the times that you send employees home, to prevent cutting labor too fast or deep.
  • Establish and use productivity rules of thumb, such as one relief worker for every five employees, etc.  
  • Self-break crews do not necessarily use less labor than scheduled relief crews.
  • Staggering employee clock-in times will help your relief staff implement a timely break and meal period schedule.
  • If you permit a schedule switch between employees, be sure the switch is with equally trained employees.  Do not swap a rookie for a well-trained veteran.
  • Before cutting back, check to see if any other departments need the labor.
  • Constantly update employee contact information. Employees do not remember to tell you when they change their phone number, address or email.

 

The Critical Points

 

  • The morning of an operational day is the most critical.  Everything has to be completed before opening, employees call in sick, equipment may break down, or supplies need to be restocked.  If you have a tendency to overstaff, overstaffing least impacts the morning shift.
  • Schedule the best trained person to do the task and the best workers on busiest days.
  • Make schedules very clear to prevent workers from failing show up for a shift due to scheduling confusion.
  • Walk your facility daily to determine how well the employees are working under your current schedule.

 

Additional Help

 

If you would like to receive additional scheduling tips, provide your email contact information in our blog comment section and I will send the information to you.

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2 Comments to “Let’s Talk Overstaffing”
  1. All excellent ideas! Great work Allen.

    • Barbara,
      Thanks for the kind words and for continuing to check out our blogs. I am glad you enjoy our efforts. If you ever have any ideas for topics you want addressed, feel free to
      submit them or drop me a note. Thanks, as always, for your support. Best, Allen

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