Successfully managing workforce expansion in your small business

By August 7, 2019 Blog
workforce expansion

Successfully managing workforce expansion in your small business

Many new startups are one person, beginning when a specialised individual decides to convert their previously employed skills into a business. Over time, they grow to the point that they are no longer able to meet market demands. Often this means the decision to expand the workforce is reactive rather than planned.

Suddenly, you are no longer just an expert in your field, and you have to quickly come up to speed as a business owner and people Manager. So how do you manage your expanding workforce in a way that sets you up for future success and not a messy employment problem?

As your business grows and more staff come on board, pain points can start to appear. Due to a need to get ‘bums on seats’, the focus is on only on minimum requirements such as wages and hours. In a rush to get people started, clear role definition is overlooked.

Defining roles is the process of delegating business tasks to individual positions, usually following a hierarchy by the level of responsibility and expertise. Tools such as an Organisational Chart and a Position Description can be an excellent way to achieve this.

Providing staff with clear expectations and delegating tasks has an immeasurable impact on employee satisfaction, retention and even recruitment (business reputation).

Signs that your employees may be suffering 

If your organisation is experiencing high turnover, low attendance or performance issues, clarifying roles is an excellent place to start.

The absence of role clarity can have a significant impact on employees. Staff may be underperforming, using a large amount of Personal Leave or expressing frustrations at work. It may be because tasks and responsibilities are not understood, and it’s causing conflict with their colleagues. Comments such as “I don’t usually do this”, “this isn’t part of my role” or “we’ve always/never done it this way” are signs that an employee is frustrated.

If you suspect employees are showing signs of disengagement or frustration, set up a time to discuss their role and day to day requirements. Being open and honest is a way to support your employees and set achievable expectations and targets.

How to define roles for an established business

It is not uncommon for jobs to evolve as your workforce expands.  Some companies may require an Organisational Review to define roles and develop a structure that works for their size and culture.

Depending on the organisation, first steps may require re-establishing the business goals, which will form part of the Strategic Plan. Measurable tasks to achieve the goals can then be allocated by the department, and then by role.

The process to define roles

  1. Establish business goals
  2. Establish business tasks to achieve goals
  3. Allocate tasks to Department or Service
  4. Determine the number of resources required to execute tasks
  5. Establish Workforce and Roles (an Organisational Chart)
  6. Create Position Descriptions for each role
  7. Measure the performance of individuals to determine the achievement of  business goals

Performance review

Performance Reviews are a great way to ensure employees are clear on the boundaries and expectations of their role.

The frequency of reviews may be negotiated with the employee to suit their circumstances. For example, you may meet informally monthly then have a more formal Performance Review every 6 to 12 months. The conversation is the key to ensure everyone is heading in the same direction.


Take the time to step back from the day to day to ensure that everyone is clear on their role in the business. Need help with workforce expansion, developing job descriptions, organisational structure, or finding the right staff? We have a range of HR Services to help you grow your business.

Emily Messina

Author Emily Messina

Emily is a Human Resources professional with a passion for supporting small business.

More posts by Emily Messina

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