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Overwhelmed with work: what to do?

Staff not performing; work piling up

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Hi all,

Instead of enjoying my one weekend off in recent weeks, I'm worrying about the work piling up in the office. There is a disciplinary process underway for one of my staff members due to poor performance. Deadlines were not being met by this staff member and then he was off sick. As we are a team of 4, work is piling up. Lots of time has been taken up dealing with a client complaint (due to above staff member) and all the HR stuff, as well as the day to day crappiness of his poor performance. I'm basically doing the work he should be doing as well as my own. Marketing and practice development have fallen by the wayside, so my practice is suffering.  Also, monthly invoices are not going out on time due to work not being finished. It's proving difficult to motivate him to improve and it is difficult to let him go due to employment law. I have received both HR and legal advice and it is being handled. I can't start the recruitment process for a replacement as I don't know how long this process will take.

My immediate concern is getting work back on track. We have a system for keeping track of work to be done, so at least we know what the workload is.

Is it worth hiring a good temp for a few weeks - would they be able to hit the ground running or would it take too long to train them in? Is it too expensive relative to charge out rates?

Or should the rest of us work our socks off for the next few weeks? We have found some smarter/quicker ways to do some work, so some good did come out of it!  I'm just not sure I can sustain this level of work for much longer. I also have a family holiday coming up next month that I really need for my own sanity.

Has anyone else fought their way out of an overwhelming workload and lived to tell the tale?

Thanks for listening.

(Posted as anonymous due to HR issues.)



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By Viciuno
04th Jun 2017 15:29

Unable to offer any insight from an employer perspective as I am not one myself so apologies if this isn't what you were looking for, but thought I might give a slightly different perspective to that of a small practice owner!

Also I don't want to second guess anything but do you know why this particular member of staff is under performing? Is it due to a lack of motivation? (pay or otherwise?) Or lack of training and he feels unable to ask for help? Are the particular deadlines too tight? Or is there other reasons why the jobs are going over budget?

In terms of the temporary staff member, if this member of staff is doing some generally menial stuff that's fairly simple have you thought about taking on a uni student(or even someone in collage) for a few months so that they can work during their holidays - I think it is around now that they finish for the summer. This way they will be fairly cheap, will most likely be grateful for the opportunity and you have no obligation to keep them for an extended period. They might even be able to take simple work of other members of staff which will free them up to do the more technical work that the student cannot do. Not to mention if they are good you might be inclined to offer them a job when they graduate.

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to Viciuno
04th Jun 2017 15:48

That's a good idea re uni students.

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04th Jun 2017 16:42

You're not alone if that makes you feel any better. We have same meat different gravy. One handed in notice because she didn't like the way my husband ( the owner acct) wanted a job done. Thenanother had a major car crash. That leaves one full time and two part timers. We also had the holiday problem but stuck with it ( away now). Not looking forward to return. Is a uni student the answer. Someone has to show them what to do. A temp? Same, costly and probably useless.

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By spilly
04th Jun 2017 18:05

Try asking your existing staff to do a few extra hours as overtime. Or offer them a bonus for each job completed within a set period. Money is a wonderful incentive!
We are lucky to have a couple of book-keeping subbies who are happy to do extra in emergencies, but if we didn't have them, I'd sub out to an agency until the crisis passed.

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By SteveRA
04th Jun 2017 21:48

A different tack: clients are often more understanding than you might imagine.

Many years ago, I need a few weeks off for maternity leave (no this was not the immaculate conception, I am female, despite the name). And then wanted to keep my working hours low for a further month or two. Many clients were happy to hang onto their books and records (this was a pre internet age) for a while and were more interested in the new baby than pushing for their tax returns to be filed.

The same happened 3 years later when baby no. 2 arrived. A few quiet weeks, then gradually getting back to work.

While I appreciate the work needs to be done, not having it sitting in your inbox and glowering at you while you are trying to catch up is actually quite helpful. When you return from your holiday you can ramp things up agin and have an extra push in September, or whenever the HR crisis subsides.

You may need to phrase your crisis as an IT upgrade or staff turnover/retraining programme for a few weeks. Ask for clot she to be patient and many will oblige.

Feel your pain, sounds tough.

Thanks (1)
By SteveRA
04th Jun 2017 21:50

Clot she was meant to be clients!!

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By Chris Mann
to SteveRA
05th Jun 2017 11:22

That's what the "edit" facility is for!

The typo could have been worse!

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By SteveRA
to Chris Mann
05th Jun 2017 11:41

it was wine-o'clock! Sorry.

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07th Jun 2017 11:01

Get in a good temporary all-rounder that can hit the ground running and help you to catch-up, possibly covering your holiday too. I know that they are out there as I used to do it. The most fun time involved breaking into an old SAGE system one Monday morning alongside one of the factory lads unlocking drawers without the keys when the FC was sacked over the weekend.

However, I also agree that clients can be very understanding and as long as they have handed over their books they are very happy to wait when warned that there is delay. As in everything, good communication is key.

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07th Jun 2017 16:08

Really sorry to hear that you are having staffing problems. Cant help with that.

Have you thought about using Doshi or another of the outsourcing firms - it appears that until you have gotten rid of the problem that you cant recruit so this could be an option

Thanks (0)
07th Jun 2017 17:44

This is what you do:
Say his pay is £20k p.a
Tell him... his client billing target is £40k
Each quarter thats £10k
If he bills £12k aquarter then he has beaten his target by 2k and he can have 25% of this as a bonus. £500 in next pay packet - bonus paid quarterly

He will roll into work, never have a day off sick and everyone in the office productivity will increase by 35%.

Publish the league table on the notice board
fred 135% of target
Mart 123% of target
Tom 101%
Jean 87% of target

Jean works a lot harder next time Fred thinks hes a star and tries to get 137% next time...

Our record is 401% ...beat that

If you all hit 100% for all quarter in the year as an extra bonus our xmas part is in Venice/monte carlo/geneva.. it can be done for less than £150

You will have no work in progress - last week of the quarter billing will be off the scale and its self policing as the staff wont do the clients work if they think its not a fair fee for the job

You can play golf... with me....

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