Last Christmas, for the first time we had up to 6 employees working in the warehouse at any one time. We didn’t actually increase hours / work that much from the previous year – we just split the hours that we had up among the employees even further. It was an interesting experiment and one that highlighted an oddity in our business and business processes.
Right now, our peak hours range from Noon to 4pm – basically, just after lunch hour is when many if not all our shipments for that day will have arrived while we have begun processing / pulling orders. By 4pm, all orders that have to go out that day have been processed; so things start slowing down.
During the ‘peak’ period, we might have up to 5 shipments from different vendors arrive and over 60+ orders to process and ship. That’s when we want multiple hands on-deck – some processing orders, some receiving new product, others shipping the order s and doing customer service.
Open Houses & Events
Another benefit of having multiple employees was that we could run Open Houses without burning out employees. We didn’t need to ask employees to work 6 days a week for only a few hours each time every week – instead, we could rotate our employees without a problem even when we had weekly open houses.
In this sense, it makes perfectly logical sense to have multiple part-time workers, none of which are ever given more than 20 – 30 hours. That way, when we do have things on weekends – events, open houses; etc we can flex these employees and have them work extra hours without having to pay over-time.
This also comes into play when you lose an employee – for the few weeks you are down an employee, you just need to increase the hours of your existing employees to make up for it till you hire another individual.
Of course, there’s a negative to this. Not everyone is going to be happy / able to work / willing to work for 10-30 hours a week for long periods of time. McDonalds and other fast food areas make do, systemizing the business such that it is easy enough to slot in new people with only a little loss in productivity. We’re not that big (or systemized); so that makes it more difficult, and frankly, trying / keeping people on part-time hours indefinitely might not be fair.
This isn’t true for everyone of course – some employees want the part-time hours and flexibility. Randy is one – he likes the work we do and the hours he gets, but he’s not at all interested in going full-time due to his other commitments. There are obviously others like this (students, artists, etc).
Still, if you hire someone on a part-time basis with no expectation of ever going full-time, you (as the business) can expect to see a higher than normal turnover. Which then compounds the need to have more trained employees so that when you do lose an employee, your normal operations aren’t disrupted.
On the other hand, expecting employees to never leave is rather silly as well…