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Managing the Workforce in the Face of Fluctuating Demand

Demand fluctuation is bound to happen in any business. Be it due to seasonal or cyclical reasons, companies need to be prepared to handle changes. As much as you want your business to advance, make sure you have what it takes to deal with the rise and fall in demand, as well as how to manage the workforce during such situations. 


No matter how meticulous you have foreseen your business patterns, there are things you cannot control. In managing employees during demand’s ups and downs, their welfare must be put as number one priority. Here are several things you can do to better lead the workforce in the face of fluctuating demand.


Maximize the peak season to its fullest potential

For cyclical industries, such as tourism, airlines, metallurgy, and mining, the peak season or busy period can usually be anticipated in advance. By having knowledge on the timetable, you can start preparing for the peak season months before it comes. First, you need to prepare the availability of manpower, which means that you should not put off the recruiting process. Knowing that preparation is important, recruiting early and not within the last minute can give you a chance to find the best talents for the required positions.


If you are not sure whether these employees you need for peak season can still work in less busy periods, then opt for seasonal employees. By the time you finish the recruitment and close the deals with them, your business will be ready for the peak season. In addition, training should be made mandatory for seasonal employees too, even though they are not subjects of permanent employment. The onboarding process for them does not have to be lengthy, but it should be comprehensive. Having prepared and trained manpower will get your business to sustain, even when the demand is going up high.


Strengthen employee engagement and communication

Employees that are engaged are those who like their jobs, care about what they do, and are actively connected with their coworkers and customers. This engagement, however, could be precarious. As they are engaged with your company, changes in dynamic can induce stress. When the demand is rising, employees can get overwhelmed and stressed out. On the other hand, when the demand is decreasing, they can get sentimental and stressed out as well. 


One way to overcome this drastic change of situation is paying attention to employees’ mental wellbeing. Understand what burnout is and why it is critical to give employees a break. Care for the individual more than the work at hand, as the effect of burnout is long-term. Provide incentives, benefits, and goals so employees have motivation. Give genuine incentives for hard work so employees understand the importance you have in them. Set attainable goals and reward employees upon achieving them.


Implement flexible scheduling

Flexible scheduling has an incredible capacity to improve employee engagement and make fluctuating seasons substantially less stressful; both of which are essential in dealing with fluctuating demand. Flexible scheduling is just a method that lets employees choose the shifts they wish to work on that day - sometimes also known as self-scheduling. This means that employees can request shifts and exchange shifts with one another. With this, they have more control over their work-life balance and thus will be more engaged with the job, as they can adjust their work at their own pace and capability, as long as tasks are completed. 


During peak season, this system will be useful in preventing fatigue and burnout. Less busy employees can back up for busier employees, thus creating better balance in manpower optimization. Needless to say, this system needs a lot of preparation before being implemented, so you need to first learn about it before putting it into practice. 


Cyclical sectors have experienced significant challenges over these past years. However, rather than viewing the unpredictability and shifting demand pessimistically, it is reasonable to recognize how it has pushed the industry to become more adaptable. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Therefore, all anticipations regarding the fluctuating demand must be recognized as early as possible.

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