Is your FEC struggling with staffing issues or with being understaffed?
If so, you're not alone.
The world has changed a lot over the past year and a half, causing a dramatic shift in the current labor market. From losing key staff members to difficulties hiring and trouble retaining staff, now is certainly a challenging time for all business owners.
Staffing difficulties have been a recurring topic in Facebook groups like the Party Center Community and FEC Operators. As you’re exploring this topic, be sure to join those groups to learn more about how other operators are navigating this issue!
Now, let’s explore 5 tips to prevent your FEC from being understaffed.
This may seem obvious, but hiring great staff members is the key to avoiding situations where employees are either frequently calling out or not showing up, leaving you stranded.
Hiring slowly will ensure that you hire the right people. If you’re currently understaffed, you might feel frustrated because you don’t have the time to hire “slowly.” But hear me out -- slowly simply means not making a kneejerk decision to hire someone after the first interview. It means following a hiring process that helps you make sure that the person you'd like to hire is a good fit.
The Hiring Process
Here's some guidance on how to build a great hiring process.
Conduct a phone screen where you gauge the candidate’s personality and communication skills. This will help you quickly weed out candidates that aren't a good fit.
Create specific questions to ask and a scorecard for yourself where you rate their response on a scale of 1-10.
At the end of the phone screen, thank them for their time. Then, add up your scores. Divide the total by the number of questions asked to get a percentage. If the candidate’s score is below 70%, they’re likely not a good fit. If they score higher than 70%, consider bringing them in for an in-person interview.
If they fly through the phone screen and it’s clear that they’re a fit, go ahead and schedule the in-person interview to continue moving the process forward.
Next, bring your candidate in for an in-person interview.
Assess all aspects of this interaction. Did they arrive early? Did they make eye contact? Were they friendly to the staff they encountered?
All the little things add up when hiring staff for a family entertainment center. After all, you are a customer-focused business so it’s important to hire friendly, sociable employees.
Now it’s time for the interview. Make sure you’re prepared ahead of time with all questions, exercises, and any assignments you might have for them after the interview.
Depending on the position you’re hiring for, you might consider hosting a group interview. Group interviews can be helpful for entry-level positions as you’re able to see how candidates interact in groups and among peers.
For management positions, we recommend conducting one-on-one interviews with your candidates. At this level, you don’t want to make a mistake and more importantly, you need to determine whether they would make a great leader.
No matter the type of interview or position, be sure that you’re following a set process and that you have a scorecard for keeping notes. Don’t rely on your memory to serve you, as it’s easy to forget specifics!
If you’re looking for some coaching on how to hire great staff, TrainerTainment has dozens of incredible webinars and other content on this topic!
Depending on the position, you may choose to conduct a second in-person interview. Whether you decide on one interview or more than one, consider creating a post-interview assignment to further vet your candidates.
Your post-interview assignment can be anything from a written response to a specific question to asking the candidate to create scripts for how they’d interact with customers in a given scenario.
These types of assignments often reveal how creative a candidate is, whether they have great communication skills, or whether they have the potential to grow your internal processes.
On the flip side, it can also help to highlight any red flags. If you’re hiring someone to run your social media and they struggle with the assignment, you'll know that they're not a great fit for the job!
While this article is focused on preventing your FEC from being understaffed, firing quickly is really important. Why? Well, a bad employee can cost your facility much more than you think. They can have a negative impact on your reputation, discourage customers from visiting, and more.
If you see someone exhibiting poor behavior, stealing, acting outside of the core values you've set for your business, cut the relationship loose as soon as possible so you can hire someone who's a better fit!
Once you have the right staff members on the bus, it’s time to focus on training.
Of course, you’ll want each staff member to be an expert in their specific role. However, you’ll also want to cross-train your staff to ensure that if you need someone to fill in for a shift or supervise a certain area, any staff member can take over.
The up-front training will take more time, but in the end, everyone (including your guests) will benefit.
Your management team should be trained in a similar fashion. They should be able to jump in to man the register, monitor all areas of your facility, and know what to do if an unexpected event were to happen.
If you find your staff struggling with emergency situations or with policies and procedures, be sure to download a copy of our guide, In Case of Emergency: An Emergency Preparedness Guide to Help Your FEC Overcome the Unexpected.
Additionally, building a company PlayBook will ensure that staff members know where to look for answers to any questions they might have.
And remember, training and re-training is key. Host refresher training sessions periodically to make sure everyone is up to speed on current procedures.
If you’ve been burned by employees calling out at the last minute, you’ll want to try a different tactic.
To prevent your facility from being understaffed, put someone “on-call” for each shift. This will protect your business if a regularly scheduled staff member calls out sick or you need some extra help on a busy weekday.
Find out which staff members are looking for more hours. Some might be looking to earn more and would be willing to help out!
Emergency situations are bound to happen. Someone might call out sick and you'll have to adapt.
However, to avoid last-minute time-off requests as much as possible, be sure to create a policy for your staff to follow.
At the end of each quarter, ask all of your staff to submit any requests for time-off they know they're going to need in the next three months. This way, you'll be able to see where dates overlap so you can plan ahead to avoid staffing problems.
In the event someone asks for time-off after the deadline you've set, let them know it's their responsibility to find someone to take their shift or you won't be able to approve the request.
It’s likely that many of your staff members are teenagers. If this is the case, consider hiring employees from different school districts.
Why? Well, if all your staff members attend the same school or are in the same district, they’ll have the same vacation days and overlapping events. If prom, graduation, or spring break come around, you'll likely struggle with making sure you have enough staff at your facility!
Hiring employees from different towns and schools will help minimize the number of time-off requests for the same days.
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