Hiring additional staff? Carefully weigh the pros and cons in order to hire with intention and pinpoint tangible value once you have your new team member.
The Importance of Administrative Roles
We all know how big of an impact the right administrative staff can have on an office.
When office support staff do their jobs well, everyone else’s jobs tend to get easier, especially when you structure their jobs properly. (For more on how to structure your front desk roles, check out our full post on the subject).
In addition to the pivotal role of support staff, they are often almost completely responsible for the first impression made on office guests. That’s why you don’t want to wait until your office support staff are completely overwhelmed to consider expanding your administrative staff.
However, these hiring decisions can be tricky, especially for small and medium businesses. Any hire can make a big impact on the bottom line. Managers are right to think carefully about the pros and cons before they bring any new staff on board.
If you’re wondering whether it’s time to expand your office support staff, here are some benefits to consider:
- Reducing the odds of an empty reception desk
- Boosting staff morale
- Allowing for specialization
- Planning for scheduling and space
Reducing the Odds of an Empty Reception Desk
Additional office support staff can be particularly helpful when their responsibilities include checking visitors into the office.
As you probably know, an occasional empty desk is unavoidable when you only have a single person in charge of visitor reception. After all, receptionists have to take breaks throughout the course of a normal day. There will also inevitably be days they won’t be able to come in (we all get sick or need the occasional vacation).
But an empty front desk can be confusing and off-putting for visitors. They may be left wondering when someone will be back to help them check in. Even worse, they may fail to wait for the administrator to come back and simply wander into the office to find who they came to see. This causes plenty of security and safety problems, and also hurts productivity as “person nearest the door syndrome” kicks in.
Plus, it’s not always easy to recruit other employees for the job of subbing in at the front desk. Front desk workers tend to get interrupted frequently. They have to look up to deal with everything from formal visitors to routine deliveries to the comings and goings of staff. It’s not ideal for any work that requires consistent, deep concentration.
Having more than one person officially in charge of the job can make it easier to keep the desk covered at all times.
Boosting Staff Morale
Staff morale is important for many reasons. When people feel good about their jobs, they tend to be more productive and stay longer. But good morale may be especially important for office support staff in a visitor management role.
When guests are greeted with a stressed out or even absent office support staff, it can do serious damage to your brand image.
As we just mentioned, a bigger office support team may reduce the workload for each individual employee. That could make it easier for them to take breaks, and make them feel less like they’re tethered to their desks.
Hiring additional office staff may have additional morale-boosting benefits, too.
In some cases, bringing additional staff on board may provide for more schedule flexibility for each worker. It can also allow each employee to specialize in the type of work they enjoy the most, as we’ll discuss next.
Allowing for Specialization
Most companies don’t have enough visitor traffic to dedicate an employee to visitor management full-time. In addition to visitor management, administrators are also often in charge of tasks such as accounting, human resources, personal assistance, office management, and even customer service.
Depending on your office needs, hiring additional support staff might allow each employee to focus on a specific area. This could make it easier to hire employees who have deeper expertise, and who could potentially make a bigger impact on the efficiency of your front office.
This kind of specialization could also fit nicely into advancement plans for your employees.
It can also make make the role more attractive to ambitious job applicants who want to use the office support role as a jumping off point in their careers.
As we mentioned in our post Why Your Office Might Need a Director of First Impressions, having employees who are willing to take the reins and really take responsibility for visitors’ experience in the front office can be a huge asset.
Another indirect perk of this specialization is that it might make it easier to calculate the ROI of a particular office hire. When you have a clearer sense of exactly which tasks each employee will handle, you get a more quantifiable sense of the value they bring.
Planning for Scheduling and Space
Of course, before you hire any additional office support staff, you’ll need to figure out how their job roles and schedules will overlap, and how they’ll share office space. How many hours do you want to give each employee each week? How will that affect your taxes, their employment benefits, and the overall cost of the hire?
Consider how you want these hires to fit into the company long-term. Could they eventually get promoted from administrative assistant to office manager? Could they move into a full-time business administration position in a few years?
Some employees may see the part-time, flexible schedule as a perk. But in other cases, employees might be upset if they don’t regularly get the same number of hours each week. And depending on your office’s needs, visitor traffic and work available could fluctuate significantly. You might not be able to guarantee regular hours if you haven’t planned their responsibilities out clearly beforehand.
An Alternative to Hiring Additional Office Support Staff
If you’re on the fence about whether you really need another office support staff hire, first consider whether software could make a difference.
The right kind of software can make your current office support staffs’ jobs much easier and perhaps eliminate the need to hire more people.
The digital tools on the market today can streamline the repetitive or tedious tasks required of many common office support jobs. This can free your staff up to focus on other, more valuable work.
There are plenty of software options on the market to handle things like accounting, expense reimbursement, payroll, and managing purchase orders. There are also apps for human resources tasks such as benefits enrollment, scheduling employees’ time off, and even recruiting and onboarding new employees.
But the software tool that arguably makes the biggest difference in your staff’s workload just might be visitor management software.
These paper-free, tablet-based systems are set up in the reception area, so guests can begin checking themselves in even when a live receptionist isn’t available. Guests can even communicate directly with their hosts from the tablet, which alleviates some responsibilities from the front desk staff. The best visitor management systems also print visitor badges automatically as part of the check-in process.
Finally, because all it takes to double the visitor check-in capacity is an additional tablet, the system can easily handle sudden surges in visitor traffic. The system even keeps records of all visits automatically, so your office will have a much better idea of what staffing resources are actually needed throughout the year.
Take a product tour of The Receptionist for iPad below:
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