HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

Steps for Using Noncore Staff More Strategically

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of leveraging noncore staff more efficiently. Most companies use administrative assistance or specialized teams, such as communications or marketing, to focus on activities that are noncore, depending on the industry (i.e., for a PR or marketing company, communications and marketing may very well be core functions).

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Here, we’ll talk about some steps for using the noncore staff more efficiently.

Categorize Activities Performed by Key Staff

Identify the common types of activities your key staff members are performing. Have staff informally keep track of day-to-day activities for a couple of weeks or a month and put them into categories. Be specific here.

For example, instead of “put together PowerPoint® presentation,” track specifics like, “added text,” or “edited,” or “created graphics.” Categorize these items based on whether they must be done by the key staff person or if they could be “internally outsourced” to someone else.

Track Time of Key Staff

Once you have identified specific activities commonly engaged in, develop an easy-to-use tracking method. Excel is a great tool for this. It should be user-friendly enough to encourage use and not add more work—that would defeat the purpose.

Do the Math

If you have a key staff person earning $75 per hour and spending 5 hours per week on noncore activities that could be done by someone making $15 per hour, reassigning that noncore work could save you $300—a week—just for that one employee.

In addition, their time is freed up to focus on higher-value activities. You’ll likely find the real numbers to be much higher than this. A survey from Service Now, for example, found that managers on average spend 2 days per week on administrative tasks.

Create a Process

Identifying inefficiencies is only one part of the solution. You also need to implement a process to eliminate waste. For example, if a highly-paid technical worker is spending too much time putting together specification documents, have him or her focus on putting together the technical language to hand off to a communications person who then generates a draft that the technical worker reviews for final approval.

Continually Review and Iterate

With efficiency improvements, it’s often the case that a big chunk of the benefits are achieved in the first iteration; subsequent iterations let you hone and refine the process. As you gather more data, you’ll be able to find additional granular ways to break down activities to separate out core and noncore elements.

Even though many companies are already using ancillary positions to facilitate the core work of key staff, there is often a way to do so far more efficiently. The key is to sit down and think about how you’re utilizing those staff members and how your staff’s time can be best spent.