When the time comes to plan your headcount as your business grows, it’s really important to find the balance between growing your team enough to move the needle, but not overhiring to the extent resources are overstretched and you have to strip back.
We’ve seen this with a whole host of tech companies recently, where the post-covid ‘bounceback’ spurred on mass hiring in order to capitalise on growth opportunities which quickly shrunk last year as markets reset. It’s certainly a unique circumstance and not a typical case of poor headcount planning, but still worth noting as an example of what the end result looks like when it’s not done correctly.
Here’s a few things you can do to get it right for your business:
Look at your business goals 🧭
Similarly to what we talked through in Blog 1: Setting Hiring Objectives, the first step in planning headcount is to define your business goals. Getting aligned is always Step 1; make sure your hiring objectives are aligned with your company’s overall goals. This will help to ensure that the candidates you attract, engage and onboard will impact the growth of your business in the ways you need.
Find the gaps 🕳
Analyse the workload of your team and identify areas where there may be gaps or inefficiencies in the work they’re doing. This will help you determine where your priorities are and whether you need to hire or if you can redistribute work across the existing team.
Consider the cost 💷
Hiring can be expensive, even more so when it goes wrong. If you haven’t already got one, create a budget for your hiring activity this year and determine how much you can afford to spend. With a budget behind you, it will be much easier to decide how you should hire; do you need to build/augment an in-house team? Are you happy paying higher fees for fast agencies? Have you explored an embedded model and what that offers? (We can help with that one 😉)
Get it down on paper ✍🏼
Once you’ve identified the roles you need to fill, start crafting a job description for each one if it doesn’t already exist. Use these descriptions to pay attention to the nuances of each team, role, division or business unit in which the role sits. Note: It’s worth affording the time and effort to get this part right (yet so many don’t!). Not only do engaging, tailored job descriptions act as stronger adverts for your company and do a better job of encouraging applications, they shine against others in your market using the same old generic company spiel.
Choose your channels 🔍
As you get set to go out to market, consider the nature of the candidates you’re going after. By extension, conduct research into where these candidates exist. Hint: there’s huge differences between where you might find a great Software Engineer vs. where you might find a brilliant Marketeer. Consider what sort of content your ideal candidate absorbs, where they hang out online and what matters to them. For example, do you need to invest in a specialised tech job board to find an expert coder or do you need to tap into the audience of an influential figure on LinkedIn or Instagram?
Monitor and measure 📊
Based on the type of candidate you’ve hired, consider the best way to monitor their performance and adjust your headcount plan accordingly. For example, what are the key outputs for that role that have the most impact on the business’ growth? Start there and work out how many people you think you’ll need to achieve that and how you’ll know they’re doing a great job.
Effective headcount planning doesn’t stop at simply hiring the right number of people. Getting the planning, approach and execution right puts you in a great position to achieve an edge over your competitors as you’ll waste less money on unnecessary hires and avoid suffering from gaps in your team’s collective skill set.
Not a bad prize for doing a thorough job with headcount planning!