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How to Manage Your Team Through Fluctuating Demand

So…it’s the busy season, and let us guess? You have to make changes to your business operation, products, and services?

And when the busy season passes, you have to make changes again. Are we right?

Customers’ demands vary. Unexpected events happen—a pandemic, a natural disaster, a shift in preferences.

Managing your team through fluctuating demand is hard enough, and the last thing you need is ambiguous advice to further complicate the management puzzle.

What you really need is a comprehensive blog post to guide you through the ups and downs. It’s here, just keep reading.

Why Balancing Your Employees Is the Key?

Business owners need a versatile and balanced workforce when demands for your products/services are unpredictable. You need reliable full-time workers who are always there, as well as part-time and standby workers for when the demands vary.

However, make sure to evaluate the current situations, previous patterns, and future predictions to recruit and schedule staff accordingly. Overstaffing is expensive, and understaffing is chaotic. You don’t want to pay employees full-time if they don’t work much, or don’t have enough staff when your business is crowded.

Don’t wait until the last minute to build a pool of standby staff. Make sure you can call someone in case the business turns crowded and hectic. You pay them for the total hours they work instead of the full-time wage.

many staff are working in the kitchen

Tips on How to Manage Your Team Through Fluctuating Demand

Be Prepared for Busy Seasons

Customers’ demands become unpredictable when busy seasons come. So, plan ahead for these periods of time.

Speed up your hiring process during peak seasons. Start recruiting early before the season starts because the whole process might take longer than you think.

Most importantly, you should train your employees properly. A well-trained staff will deliver better service to customers. Employee training programs don’t have to be complicated. They just need to be comprehensive.

Some business owners think of  “seasonal hires” as temporary workers. They don’t invest in training and engaging these staff. Block that idea out of your mind! These people are just as important as full-time employees, so you should treat them all in the same way.

Flexible Scheduling 

You can let employees select their preferred shifts. Allow them to swap shifts and choose open shifts whenever they can.

This method, also known as self-scheduling, allows for greater flexibility in the event of a sudden shift in demand or requirements.

Employees often prefer flexible scheduling because it gives them more ownership over their lives, and helps them balance work and other obligations better. This approach also reduces no-shows and improves productivity.

But what if some shifts are always empty? What if some shifts are selected by too many staff? You still need to balance the schedule by assigning shifts to employees by yourself. With the help of a scheduling app like Camelo, you can quickly do that, with no sweat.

schedule shifts efficiently with the Camelo app
Schedule shifts for your staff right on your phone with Camelo

Watch Out for Unplanned Overtime

For some businesses, overtime may result in substantial labor costs and compliance issues. Pay attention to data. If overtime happens too many time, it’s a sign that your work schedules are off and not well-planned.

Make it clear to your team that working overtime is the exception rather than the rule. Establish an overtime limit and ensure that employees are aware of how much overtime they will work per pay period.

Do a review (audit) of the tools and resources that workers use during business hours. Are they slowed down by outdated equipment or software? Employees can save time on day-to-day activities with the help of new technology, and they don’t have to work extra hours anymore.

Good Team Communication 

Good team communication is essential when it comes to fluctuating demand. Make sure staff can connect with you and other staff and vice versa, whether via an internal social media group, a team messaging app, or a phone call.

You might want to create a list of standby staff’s phone numbers, so you have someone to call in urgent situations, without ringing around hopelessly.


There’s no doubt that managing your team through fluctuating demand is challenging.

It’s not enough to hire (or fire) as many staff as possible and expect things to work out themselves.

Take some time to go through the process of planning strategies for both peak and low seasons. You’ll be well-prepared for the unknown challenges on the road ahead.

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