The importance of operational planning for your business


Think of your business as a ship. You need to make sure everything is running correctly to ensure you stay afloat - however, there's no use sailing if you have no clear idea of where you're headed, or how you're getting there. Your operational plan will be the lighthouse that reminds you which way to go, and highlights any potential dangers that could arise in the near future.

What is an operational plan?

An operational plan details the actions your different teams or departments must carry out to achieve short-term targets and objectives of the company, and is essential in effective workforce management. This plan is updated depending on your needs.

This should comprehensively cover:

  • What targets need to be met in order to achieve short-term goals.
  • The sustainability of any projects undertaken.
  • What the time constraints are.
  • Who the teams are, and what's expected of the individual team members, including personal targets.
  • Whether there's any risk of not meeting goals, and how these risks can be avoided.
  • The financial and time cost involved in meeting the short-term goal.
A man and a woman working in the office.Depending on the size of your business, you may need multiple plans for different departments.

Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged.

An operational plan ensures that a benchmark is in place for the meeting of these short-term objectives, and that you can refer to it in case of risks or to confirm that the day-to-day output of the company is on track with your targets. Depending on the size of a contact center, sometimes multiple plans are executed for different departments to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What are the differences between strategic and operational plans?

While an operational plan focuses on short-term goals, a strategic plan embodies a long-term outlook for your contact center, projecting from 12 months to around five years ahead. As a general blanket overview for your entire company, a strategic plan considers what projects or opportunities you'll need to take on to meet your long-term goal, and what changes need to be implemented throughout to support this. Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged unless there's a major review.

Why do I need an operational plan for my business?

Having an operational plan is crucial. It's an all-star playbook for your business - reviewing the performance of key staff members through quality management, and recognizing how the overall team can work together to meet targets. Without an operational plan, you're out of the league.

Being able to update and refer to a plan enables comprehensive understanding of goals.

An operational plan ensures you can identify areas that aren't generating as much revenue as they should, or are causing losses, and can help you establish what needs to change. Being able to continually update and refer to a short-term plan enables a comprehensive understanding of what the goals are and provides a guide for every step of the process. As a result, your agents should be well aware of what's expected of them and with the right tools self-manage meeting these targets.

Operational plans bring accountability into daily tasks. By having a comprehensive plan of expectations for the performance of your business, if discrepancies occur, you should be able to analyze your plan and identify where these have taken place and how they can be resolved. These plans are a great way of managing other performance indicators too: shrinkage, the number of calls or average handling time, or which of your employees are achieving higher than their targets.

A group of workers plan at a table.Being able to refer to a short-term plan enables comprehensive understanding of goals and a guide for every step of the process.

How can I create a plan?

The planning process is dynamic - you need to be able to adapt your plan to a range of changes, which can be a daunting task. If you're new to operational planning, it's best to seek professional consultation or learning tools to help you step into the critical thinking role of an operational planner. There are many resources and guides from which you can draw your operational plan. Attending a workforce management course can open new doors for your management techniques, allow you to explore new avenues for staff optimization and can help you derive the right targets to implement into your planning.

Call Design's Workforce Management Essentials course is designed to educate workforce management admins and analysts with some of the best industry knowledge and practices. This course breaks down essential workforce management operations to ensure all facets of your business are running as they should be. Examining team efficiency, staff placements and forecasting in the short- and long-term are all theories explored in the course. This way, workforce planners can optimize their staff arrangements to prevent mistakes and make sure they are meeting business requirements.

Call Design has been delivering tailored workforce optimization solutions to contact centers for almost 20 years, and pride ourselves on our service and industry expertise. To find out how our training courses can help you implement effective operational planning into your organization, get in touch with our team.


Business growth and high staff turnover: what to do about it


Losing trusted personnel is always a concern, especially when you're trying to grow your business.

A high staff turnover rate can disrupt processes, affect staff morale, and drain time, money and resources away from a company's overarching goals.

Here, we'll take a look at why you should care about resignations, the reasons they happen, and what you can do to prevent them, keeping in mind at all times the objective of business growth.

Call Design has training and solutions that will aid your staff retention rates. High staff turnover can seriously limit business growth.

How does staff turnover affect business growth?

If you type "How do I grow my business" into Google, you'll likely return a lot of results about what makes a 'foolproof' strategy, how to identify new opportunities, and different ways to get your brand out there. While there's no doubt that all of these things, and more, are important ingredients for business growth, one subject area that's conspicuous by its absence is looking after your staff.

In 2017, the average cost of rehiring mid-range positions was 20% of the position's salary.

The impacts of staff leaving your company are often felt much more widely than you may first think. When it comes to hindering business growth frequent departures can affect the following:

  • Costs: As anyone with any experience of hiring and training a new employee will know, it doesn't come cheaply. One 2017 study found that on average, the costs to replace an employee are 20% of that position's salary.  In an organization with a high turnover, these costs can quickly start to add up and affect growth.
  • Productivity: With a depleted team, you can't expect to get the same amount of work done. This will, with time, start to seriously impact the productivity of your business, which will, in turn, be detrimental to your ability to grow.
  • Staff morale: The byproducts of this increased workload for those left behind can include higher levels of stress, and an overall drop in morale. This could create a vicious cycle of resignations if these new stresses become too great.
  • Leadership prioritizing: Instead of focusing on growth strategies, lengthy recruitment and hiring cycles will serve as unnecessary distractions for you and the rest of the leadership team.
Good engagement with staff can help prevent resignations.Leaders need to recognize the importance of staff retention if their company is to grow successfully.

What are the causes of high staff turnover?

A 2017 report from the Institute of Managers and Leaders showed that 10 percent of employees leave their positions voluntarily because they aren't offered sufficient opportunities to develop themselves professionally.

The top three reasons for resigning in this survey were as follows:

  • Seeking new challenges - 79 percent.
  • Limited career advancement/progression - 58 percent.
  • Insufficient remuneration - 45 percent.

What you can do to prevent high staff turnover?

What should strike you first as you digest this information is that all of the above are largely within your control. In this section, we'll discuss some of the specific steps you can take to reduce the rates of attrition in your business.

1. Regularly engage with your staff:

As a people manager you're setting yourself up for failure if you don't frequently take the time to talk to your staff. This is especially true in growing businesses where changes in strategy or increasing demands mean that personnel are consistently having to adapt to new ways of working. Having your finger on the pulse of your employees gives you a better chance of catching problems when they're in their infancy, rather than letting them develop.

2. Conduct exit interviews:

Whether it's the latest in a spate of resignations, or the first departure in a while, it's vital to engage the outgoing staff member in an exit interview. These forums offer the perfect opportunity to discover exactly why this person no longer wants to work in your organization. Free from the pressure of talking to a professional superior, you'll likely find former employees are a lot more honest in this setting, providing you with valuable insights as to how you can improve staff experience for those who remain, therefore reducing future turnover.

3.  Provide professional upskilling programs

The millennial workforce is only going to grow in the coming years, so knowing how to appeal to this group is particularly important for managers who want to hold onto their staff. A staggering 87 percent of millennials rank professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a role, according to a Gallup report - so establishing training programs should be high on your list of priorities.

The other benefit of this solution is that better-trained staff have more to offer your business. A great place to learn how to instigate such initiatives is with Call Design's Managers Essentials Course. Designed for team leaders and managers, this program will tell you how to set measurable goals with your employees, identify roadblocks that could prevent them achieving their objectives, and provide actionable feedback.

The existence of these initiatives not only makes your company a more attractive place to work, but also lays the foundations for a more productive and engaged workforce.

Call Design's Manager Essentials course can help managers learn how to provide useful feedback to staff.Training programs are a great way of engaging staff with your business, and improving productivity.

4. Implement incentive programs

Another crucial way of increasing loyalty is to recognize and reward strong performances.

As we saw above, 45 percent of voluntary resignations come as a result of insufficient remuneration. While simply upping the salaries of all staff is financially unviable in the majority of businesses, an important step is to provide employees with a progression roadmap. By showing workers what they need to do in order to be considered for promotion you make it clear that increased wages are a tangible reality.

However, there are plenty of incentives you can offer instead of/alongside augmented earnings:

  • Flexible work arrangements: Millennial employees are more likely to be loyal to companies that offer flexible work arrangements, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Software such as Call Design's workforce management solution ME offers staff the opportunity to take ownership of their personal schedules on-the-go.
  • Gift cards: Gift cards are a great incentive as you can personalize them to show an awareness of an employee's interests or hobbies.
  • EventsCompany funded events or excursions are perfect for showing staff that their efforts are appreciated, and to bring the team closer together.

These are just a few ideas on how you can help to prevent staff from leaving your business. For more solutions, and information on our training courses, get in touch with Call Design today.