Two months into 2016, and we think, “Where has the time gone?” With the economy in a turbulent, oscillatory state, the days seem even fuller. Concerns are amplified. Costs loom large. Business leaders are even more apprehensive about expenses when turmoil reigns than in more tranquil times. Recurring questions loom large: Are we running this enterprise as efficiently and effectively as possible?” “How can we increase profitability, efficiency and effectiveness and stay in business?” To find your answer, use a zero-based budget. Doing so will expose clearly the two most significant costs [RR1] of any business — direct and indirect labor.
Direct labor includes the individuals who are actually making production happen—the folks that who physically do the work, from welding and truck driving to packaging. Without direct labor, there is no product, no sales, and no profit!
Indirect labor centers in the back office—the accounting, marketing, human resources and executive staff that are needed to create the environment within which the product is produced and support the direct labor force.
Start from zero. Identify all of the contributions that each individual on your team provides to the overall enterprise. Be honest and forthright, giving credit where credit is due. A zero based budget approach will identify areas in which staff are not productively engaged for an entire work day and areas where additional resources may be required in order to perform at optimum levels. You’ll yield the data that managers or senior leaders can mine to realign resources which are best suited for organizational efficiency. By identifying individual contributors who are overworked and others do not have enough work to be productively employed all day long, you can make intelligent changes, effectively reallocate the resources and yield savings.
In some instances, you might cross-train employees may be able to learn new tasks and assignments so they can stay on the job. In other cases, the skill set that a current employee possesses and the new skill set required for accomplishing needed tasks may dictate either more extensive job retraining or additional skill acquisition. And remember mentoring. Often, baby boomer employees lack the digital dexterity of many millennial employees. Millennials lack institutional knowledge. Mentoring helps both employee generations.
A recent Business Week article
addressed how some companies are adapting using mentoring to mine existing resources and prepare millennial generation employees for company leadership roles. By the year 2020, millennial age employees will be the primary workforce members. Get them ready! Baby boomer employees with years of institutional knowledge can share it with newer, the millennial generation employees. Those millennials will help baby boomers understand and utilize new digital technology, from computer programs, tablets, and phablets to the plethora of digital devices and inter web assets that are the lifeblood of the workplace today.
A zero-based budget workforce audit provides a data-driven construct to reorganize and restructure the current organization. You will make best use of additional human resources, find areas where workload demands have changed, and enable additional capacity for identified employees who can segue into adaptive roles, those with the ability to take on more work within a lean organization. Keep in mind that if everyone on the team starts working 80-hour work weeks, either you will need more staff or further redesign the work. Of course, if an employee is unwilling or unable to learn new skills or take on more, he or she might be directed to find an opportunity elsewhere.
Rather than being overstuffed, your team will be best served running “one person short.” Don’t carry underutilized or unnecessary extra staff. The goal is full-engagement: everyone knows what is expected of them and what has to be done by days’ end. This demands a balanced, rational approach. To be prepared, carefully review your workload, review the team assignments, and you may find that with creativity and realignment, you can trim the ship, increase profitability and ensure organizational effectiveness.