Time To Leverage Your Staff For Higher Productivity

By Doug Clute

In his business classic Good to Great, Jim Collins said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Famously Collins says you need to have the right people in the right seats on your bus.

In business, profits and shareholder returns can be linked to productivity growth, which can be directly linked to having great people. Productivity measures output per unit of input, such as labor, capital or any other resource – and is typically calculated for the economy as a whole, as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to hours worked. Labor productivity may be further broken down by sector to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

A staffing plan makes sure you have the right people in the right spots at the right time.

A Staffing Plan Fit For A King

Have you ever tasted Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread?

The bakery that created this treat was founded in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii and later became known as King’s Hawaiian. In 1977 the company expanded and built its first mainland bakery in Torrance, California. Its vision was to become the biggest Hawaiian food company in the world.

To support their continued growth, in 2010 their strategy included building a new production facility. To better serve the East Coast they started construction on a third bakery facility in Oakwood, Georgia. This was a project that was estimated to take at least one year to complete. Initial staffing of the new facility would require hiring over one hundred new employees.

Well before construction began, a staffing plan was developed and implemented. The plan included headcount, timing, skills needed, and training required for each position.

Success was dependent on a lot of hard work by great people. Internal partnerships between operations and human resources, as well as relationships with local agencies and recruiting partners were key to its success.

The plant opened on schedule and within budget. Since then, the plant has been expanded several times and each time a staffing plan was one of the keys to success.

Staffing Linked To Productivity

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a company’s production process, This is calculated by measuring the number of units produced relative to employee labor hours or by measuring a company’s net sales relative to employee labor hours.

Most successful organizations have a strong understanding of their strategic direction. Mission and vision statements communicate who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Operational plans and budgets that lay out the organization’s periodic goals, objectives, and projects that are in support of the mission and vision.

But will they achieve the mission and vision without the right people? Even with a clear mission and vision, without the talent required to support this direction, organizations are unlikely to reach their full potential. Management journals contain many studies that have found that companies incorporating a staffing plan into their business are more likely to increase performance.

For many organizations – especially one that is growing quickly – the focus is often on things like improving or expanding products and services; increasing revenue; and acquiring new customers. These are the lifeblood of a successful growing business. However, if the workforce needed to support this growth is more of an afterthought, it can slow that growth and even jeopardize servicing existing customers.

The Six Steps Of Staff Planning

There are six steps included in the staff planning process: establishing goals, identifying influencers, surveying the current state, envisioning needs, conducting a gap analysis, and developing and executing a plan. Let’s examine each step:

One: Establishing Goals. This step should largely be completed through the operational planning process mentioned above. Having an accurate understanding of the periodic goals, objectives and projects the organization anticipates completing in the planning cycle is the foundation of successful staff planning.

Two: Identifying Influencers. What factors might influence the staffing plan? Influencers can be external or internal. They can be positive or negative. An influencer is anything that might affect the plan but is largely uncontrollable by the organization. This step can be completed with a brainstorming session to identify factors that need to be considered. What is the status of the local labor market? Are there any technology changes that will impact productivity? Are local competitors growing or laying off staff? Are there any facility constraints such as office space limitations?

Three: Surveying the Current State. What is the state of the organization’s current staff? What expertise does each staff member have? Are there employees who are likely to leave for personal reasons or retirement? What employees are likely to be promoted into different roles? Are there poor performers who may need to improve or be replaced? While this step includes a listing of headcount, the main objective is to create an inventory of skill sets, competencies, and availability of the current staff.

Four: Envisioning Future Needs. To reach the organizational goals and complete the projects identified in step one, what skills, competencies, and staffing will be required? It is best to complete this step with the mindset of building the staff from scratch. This will help identify requirements without being overly influenced by the current state. Will the goals and projects require new competencies? Will additional staff be needed? Will staffing need to change during the year? Would using contractors or outside expertise be a good fit to meet short term needs?

Five: Conducting a Gap Analysis. What is missing between the current state and projected needs to accomplish the organization’s goals? Is additional training needed? What would be the timing of any new training? Do you need to add staff? In what positions, when will they be needed, how long will it take to recruit and onboard? Are current staff in the correct roles, or would reassignment make better use of their skills.

Six: Developing and Implementing the Plan. With the insight and information developed through this process the organization can now build a plan to successfully support their goals and projects. Planning for needed training, recruitment of staff additions and backfilling departures, use of outside expertise, etc. This plan will include actions as well as timing. The ultimate impact the plan has on the organization is dependent on an effective implementation and follow up. Committing to periodic updates and review will keep the plan on pace.

Let The Process Flow

This overview references six separate steps in the process. In concept the process follows the logical thought flow. However, in practice steps may overlap. The staff planning process can include as few or as many individuals as needed. Staffing plans can be created in any format that is comfortable to the organization. What is important is that the plan includes the relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and actionable.

Here is a thought to guide the plan. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy of General Electric: “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The right staffing plan improves the odds of succeeding on the bets you make on your people.

If you are open to a conversation about staffing planning and how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Doug Clute is a Senior Human Capital LCS Consultant with over 30 years of insight and expertise as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC Divisions

Testing Division provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, skills testing, domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication.

Business Consulting for Higher Productivity Division provides stress & time management workshops, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills, leadership training, market research, staff planning, operations, ERP/MRP selection and implementation, refining a remote work force, M&A including due diligence – success planning – value creation and much more.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, extension 403, & our website:

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2024

Preventing Burnout in Today’s Environment

By Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC

Could employee burnout impact your company?

Burnout that causes companies to lose great employees occurs when your workers experience too much stress for a prolonged period. The employee is left feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Not only that, your employees are less productive at work, show reduced concern for others, and are more likely to miss work.

by dasstudios

Burnout is no doubt tied to stress, and workers in the United States are some of the most stressed employees in the world. That’s according to the 2022 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report, which captures how people are feeling about work and their life.

Surprising statistic: U.S. and Canadian workers, whose survey data are combined in Gallup’s research, ranked highest for daily stress levels of all groups surveyed. Some 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers reported feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from the year prior and compared with 43% of people who feel that way globally, according to Gallup’s 2021 report.

Too much stress at work and home leads to burnout, which can be defined as lower psychological and physical wellbeing, as well as dissatisfaction, and employee turnover.

This stress spike isn’t surprising to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist, who told CNBC that “rates of daily stress, worry, sadness and anger have been trending upward for American workers since 2009. Concerns over the virus, sickness, financial insecurity and racial trauma all contributed to added stress during the pandemic.”

by Pexels

There is also a side effect called “quiet quitting.”

According to the newsletter The Daily Skimm, quiet quitting is “when employees quit going above and beyond what they’re paid to do. The pandemic blurred the lines between home and work — leading to burnout. And many have felt stretched thin by doing more than one person’s job, especially during The Great Resignation. On top of that, employees have become frustrated with the lack of growth opportunities and little pay.”

Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but common side effects of quiet quitting include: no more staying late after work, no more attending events like virtual lunches, and no more doing anything beyond the job description.

How To Spot Burnout

“Burnout looks like extreme exhaustion paired with low engagement, high hopelessness, poor motivation and limited efficacy,” says Colorado therapist Carrie Johansson, PhD, author of the book Self Help On The Go.

Helping companies prevent employee burnout is a critical element to employee retention and performance, says Johansson.

“Balancing challenge with breaks, prioritizing values and purpose in work, and encouraging employee autonomy all help keep employees engaged and motivated to perform,” says Johansson. “Employees should be encouraged to use cycles of effort interspersed with rest, to have systematic self-care strategies in place and to connect with fellow employees to stay actively engaged and connected in their work.”

Doug Clute takes a pragmatic view of burnout. Clute is a human capital consultant who provides Lighthouse Consulting Services clients with his insight accumulated in over 30 years as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

“Typically, there is a bit of cynicism on the part of the employee when they’re experiencing burnout,” says Clute. “The employee’s mindset is: ‘I’m working so hard, but what difference does it make? Whether I do a good job or not, I don’t see how my role is connected to the bigger whole.’”

Clute says the misalignment piece of the puzzle needs to be addressed.

“Sometimes it’s important for companies to create what I like to call it a buddy system,” says Clute.

Clute says oftentimes new employees get assigned a sponsor for a couple months. They have lunch, touch base, but eventually that relationship dissipates after 90 days. Assigning employees in danger of burnout with a buddy could retain a great employee.

“The buddy must be a friend as well that can hold the employee in check when they’re too invested at work and are turning a blind eye or not paying much attention to their personal life,” says Clute.

The field of neuropsychology offers other clues on how to assist employees struggling with quiet quitting or burnout.

“Combating burnout sometimes means not following common success advice,” says neuropsychologist Steve Swavely, PhD, author of the upcoming book Optimal Team Performance. “For example, ‘Eat your frog first thing’ is an adage about tackling your toughest challenges first thing in the morning. It has some merit, but not if you’re combating burnout. A better approach is to tackle some small challenges early to experience the satisfaction of success. This causes the brain to release a host of neurochemicals that lift your mood, and your capacity to tackle more difficult challenges. Save the frog for lunch.”

What Can Employers Do

“We are working on one engagement right now with an organization where they brought us in to help a junior leader develop their leadership skills and learn how to balance their life,” says Patty Crabtree, a senior consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services. “This junior leader over commits to everything and says yes to everything. The company brought us in to help that person understand how to put boundaries in place, which is really critical. The senior leadership team wants to grow this individual so that they can step up in their role.“

Without this coaching, it is easy to see how this junior leader with great potential could be lost to burnout.

by Ronald Carreño

“The big lesson here is that as the world moves more and more toward this virtual remote environment, leaders need to be more thoughtful in the way they engage their staff,” says Crabtree.

Here are three actions employers can take:

Hire Better. Improving hiring and talent development through in-depth work style and personality assessment tests is a great start. Take more time scrutinizing candidates who apply for leadership roles, identifying their empathy, emotional intelligence and ability to perform under pressure.

Train Better. Use personality assessments for the basis of team building. Good leaders must learn how to shield employees from unnecessary stress. Sometimes through training we discover we hired the right employee for the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles goes a long way to improving retention and productivity and decreasing burnout and quiet quitting.

Communicate Better. In-depth work style and personality assessments give managers and employees a common language about how they like to interact. When people use their strengths, they feel more competent and engaged. Staff are less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they decide on how and when they complete their work. Supporting and recognizing good work reduces stress while promoting a sense of belonging.

by Moni Mckein

As the work world shifted from workplace to working from home to now returning to a workplace, everything is not just going back to the way things were. ”That’s not reality,” says Crabtree. “When you make this change in this new environment, you need to really work and be thoughtful in designing that way that environment’s going to work.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business.” They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker and radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code. To order the books, please visit

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.