Last week David McIntosh discussed the topic of ‘People Planning’ for peak period at our Peak Planning Breakfast Networking Event. The first half of David’s career was spent working in retail operations for companies such as Allied Domecq and United Biscuits. More recently David’s roles have been in people development and performance, leading to his current position as Organisational Development Manager at Arrow XL, a company that has recently undergone significant change and growth.

At Arrow XL ‘Peak period’ is looked at as an opportunity for improvement and change. They have many peak periods throughout the year including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Easter and Summer. Volumes during peak times can flex by up to 50% which is why post incident / implementation reviews are essential. The reviews consider what was done well, what went wrong and what shouldn’t be repeated.

4 questions that businesses should ask themselves ahead of the uplift in headcount for peak:
1. How many people do we need to recruit?

Businesses must be clear how many people are needed in each function.

2. What will the additional employees do?

Businesses must then assess where these people will work and where they can best master the skills to take the place of an experienced employee. It’s important to identify which stage they will work at and where they can add the most value, in the least amount of time.

3. Who is available in the market?

Businesses should understand the local market and the bredth and depth of talent that is available.

4. Who can recruit them?

Businesses should work in partnership with 1 or 2 recruitment consultancies who can not only resource the right people but also understand exactly what your business is about. Whether its temporary staff or interim managers, it’s about working closely with the right partner.

3 aspects of People Planning for Peak that businesses should take into consideration.
1. Induction of temporary peak employees

It’s important that seasonal employees can turn up on day one and start to add value straight away. This can be done by using work-ready training programmes, pre-employment training, online learning portals, outsourced training companies and government training initiatives such as Job Gym.

2. Training of temporary peak employees

When temporary employees start with your company, necessary training can be undertaken using;

  • On-the-job training.
  • ‘Buddy Up’ training schemes where new staff work directly alongside an existing employee to learn from.
  • One-to-one training with a mentor and assessments using tick list to qualify that each person has developed the specific skills they need.
3. Management of temporary peak employees

Manage the seasonal employees through their time with your business by;

  • The use of ‘Buddy Up’ schemes, ensuring that targets are met and maintained.
  • Allowing people that want to progress the opportunity to be a temporary team leader or manager, therefore increasing the size of the management team during peak. At some Arrow XL sites over 50% of the current management team started as temporary peak workers.
  • Engagement with current employees is important in ensuring that they work well with temporary employees.
  • Supporting people’s personal goals by demonstrating to temporary staff there is an opportunity for them at the end of their contract if they want it and giving them something to aim for.
Key Takeaways:

If peak is seen a challenge in your business, then it is likely that all you’re looking to do is survive.

If peak is seen as an opportunity, then it can be;
  1. A talent pool for finding new employees.
  2. An opportunity to develop future team leaders and managers.
  3. An opportunity to simplify business processes because new people coming into the business always find new and easier ways to carry out tasks that your existing staff may never have thought of. Many major continuous improvement projects and simplification of processes have arisen because of suggestions from temporary staff.