In my last blog post I said that whilst greater efficiency may reduce the number of staff needed it does not work if you try to do it the other way round, that is cutting staff numbers and expecting greater efficiency.
But assertions are not evidence so let’s show the consequences of cutting staff without thinking it through.
You run a service centre where people come for help. During opening hours they arrive at random intervals, at a rough rate of 6 an hour, and each one takes on average 10 minutes to deal with. You have a staff of two providing the service.
People like the service as on average they only have to wait 3 minutes to be seen.
You are asked to make staff cuts. With only two people your choices are limited. But if people only have to wait an average of 3 minutes surely it won’t be so bad if you only have one person instead?
Before I give you the answer what do you think the new average waiting time will be with just one person dealing with queries?
- Double, so 6 minutes on average
- Treble, so 9 minutes on average
- Pessimist, so 15 minutes on average
- Extreme pessimist, 30 minutes on average
The answer follows this photo of a reflective bear…
The answer is that the new average waiting time is nearly 5 hours.
Don’t believe me? You can model it with queuing theory assuming a default standard Poisson process and default standard exponential service times.
Running a call centre? Running an A&E? Running a transaction processing system?
Do the maths before you make a cut.