Is “Doing More With Less” Actually Sustainable?

Right now, we are seeing a lot of businesses looking at cost cutting exercises for various reasons. The conversations we’ve been having with customers have prompted us to start thinking about “why?”.


We’ve been doing a case study recently looking at 4 main areas:

  1. Why are people quitting their jobs?
  2. How many people are looking to move in the next 12 months?
  3. What factors are influencing Company Strategy?
  4. Do companies have their staffing levels “right”?

After combining our South Australian based research with data released from the PwC Global CEO Survey and Deloitte Access Economics, the results have been very interesting.

1) Why are People Quitting Their Jobs?

Last year our research interviewed over 300 South Australian Accountants who were looking to leave their organisation.  The results have changed dramatically this year (306 interviewed) indicating that:

“people are now leaving companies rather than leaders”.

2012 vs 2013 

2) How Many People are Looking to Move in the Next 12 Months?

Deloitte Access Economics has found that 35% of people are not expecting to stay in their current jobs over the next 12 months with 15% planning to leave. If the average annual turnover is 18.5% then the challenge businesses face is keeping the extra 16.5% engaged and addressing the issues that could result in them leaving…

“It could be the difference between having low (15%) turnover and high (up to 35%).”

3) What Factors are Influencing Company Strategy?

PwC’s 16th Annual Global CEO survey looked at the biggest influences in the strategy of a business. It was interesting to see the top 3 reasons CEOs gave:

  • Customers & Clients
  • Industry Competitors and Peers
  • Government & Regulators

PwC CEO Surevy


It could be suggested that CEOs might be so heavily influenced by regulators, meeting customers needs and observing their competitors that they are losing sight of the most important factor to them running successfully…Their People.

4) Do Companies Have Their Staffing Levels Right?

We also surveyed Companies in South Australia (247 participants) and asked them to comment on their staffing levels.

What we found was that a staggering 77% felt that they were not staffed adequately.

Staffing Levels - South Australia

The research we have compiled suggests that while being understaffed is having a negative effect on employees (with 35% not expecting to be in their role in the next 12 months and most blaming company direction) more than 3 quarters of employers actually recognise that they are understaffed. Surely if being understaffed is having a detrimental effect on your business in the short and long term then its something you need to fix?

A recent government survey has indicated that a third of skilled migrants leave South Australia within 2 years of arriving which supports the theory that companies are trying to do “more with less”. Does this mean that the skilled migrants are leaving – or that the opportunities are disappearing? Or simply that they are being attracted elsewhere? Moreover, are companies that are “doing more with less” able to attract and keep the best talent in the market?

“Running a leaner team can reduce your fixed costs but can also be detrimental to retaining the top talent in your workforce.”

From speaking to customers and friends in South Australia is would appear that the main issues to focus on are “how to reengage the troops”, how to develop existing talent and ultimately retain it.

If there’s too much focus on bottom line figures then “Doing More with Less” will result in “Doing Less…(With Less)”.

What  You Can Do:

  • Listen, Address and Understand – make sure you have regular 1on1 meetings with all of your staff to understand their concerns.
  • Offer Solutions – where possible – the light at the end of the tunnel will help. If there are not enough resources look at temporary relief. The worst thing you can do is do nothing.
  • Make it fun – Keep staff engaged. Even in tough times its remarkable how comradery can galvanise the troops – a “Corporate Blitz Spirit” if you will.
  • Recognise Effort – Reward Success – Your people want to feel valued. If your people aren’t recognised for doing well it will disengage them and they will become unproductive before leaving.


More With Less





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