If your company is like many others, it probably has learned to capitalize on its resources, especially its staff. This skill can be a necessity in good economic times, but especially in trying ones, when staff members may be called upon to work extra hours or perform duties beyond their job description. When conditions reach a crisis point, however, it’s time for management to face the reality that additional staff is needed. As a manager, your task is to present the problem in real and honest terms, and show how additional staff will solve the problem of being short-staffed. If you can justify the need for additional staff in a reasonable and persuasive manner, you should be able to sway your superiors in due course.
Open your letter with a clear, concise statement that summarizes conditions at your business, as well as your intent. You might say, for example, “As you know, ABC Company has enjoyed a brisk increase in customers the last six months. While this condition portends good things for the company’s financial future, it also has placed an undue strain on the staff that leads me to respectfully request the hiring of additional staff.”
Describe the problems the business has encountered because of its current staffing. Use several timely examples that “paint a picture” of the problems that your reader can visualize. Customer complaints are bound to generate attention from upper management, so cite them if they exist. Rely on documented failures, mistakes and missed opportunities to shore up your case for additional staffing.
Outline the longer-term consequences of being short-staffed in real and vivid terms -- but do not exaggerate. You may wish to compare the current staffing to previous and more optimal staffing levels, but tread carefully and with diplomacy. Maintain an even-handed tone; do not invoke sarcasm or make dramatic references, such as to “a ridiculous situation” or “a train wreck waiting to happen.”
Commend the efforts of your present staff, lest they be seen as the cause of the problem. In other words, say that they are doing their level best to keep up with demand but are in need of help to “meet the company’s high expectations of delivering superb customer service and satisfaction.”
Propose your solution. If hiring one full-time staff member would be the ideal solution, say so. But if a part-time staffer would suffice, be sure to say this, too. Upper management will weigh your honesty and credibility in rendering a final judgment to your request.
Anticipate any objections to your request. Most likely, it will be money – always a tricky issue to navigate. Counter the objection by making an obvious point: that while you realize an additional staff member will cost the company money, the move will result in higher earnings for the company and greater customer satisfaction.
Craft an emotional appeal that assures upper management that you have the company’s best interests at heart. For example, point to your years of service to the company and stress your ongoing commitment to its success. In this case, you might also say that hiring additional staff is “critical to” or “important” to ensuring that longevity and success.
Express your thanks for the recipient’s time and consideration. Offer to discuss your request as well as “any alternative solutions” the recipient may have in mind.
Proofread and edit your letter carefully for spelling, grammar and especially tone.
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors; 1999.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Writing the Basic Business Letter
- Concise Writing.com: Clear, Concise Writing from Bold Visions
- Writing a request for additional staff is essentially the equivalent of writing a persuasive appeal. You must invoke some emotion but temper your words with realism, lest you lose credibility. With this in mind, review your word choices carefully to be sure they depict your work environment as it really is.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.