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When Budgeting, Understand the Cost of Overworking Staff



When it comes to budgeting for an arts or cultural organization, it's often necessary to look for ways to cut costs.

One common strategy?


Loading more work on your existing staff to avoid either hiring additional help or outsourcing or both.


On paper, this might make your bottom line look better.


Plus, your staff is like a Swiss Army knife of skills and abilities.


They're 'paid for,' meaning they can do many things, from printing and mailing an annual fund appeal to taking program books to the venue.


But here's the catch: Just because they can do something, doesn't mean they should.


Short-Term Savings vs. Long-Term Costs


Cutting expenses by overworking staff might offer short-term financial relief, but it overlooks significant long-term costs.


We're talking about decreased productivity, increased staff burnout, and the high turnover rates that follow.


Each of these has financial and operational costs of their own.


The Unintended Consequences


These unintended consequences can quickly outweigh initial savings.


Overburdened staff are more likely to make mistakes, less likely to innovate, and their morale suffers.


High turnover not only incurs direct costs in recruiting and training but also impacts organizational knowledge and continuity.


A Smarter Approach to Budgeting


So, what's the solution?


It starts with recognizing that true cost savings and efficiency gains come from a well-supported, adequately staffed team.


This might mean investing more upfront in your people or outsourcing specific tasks to preserve your team's focus and energy.


Here's the key: Plan for resources that maximize your staff's 'return on effort.'


This means recognizing what tasks are best suited for them and what should be outsourced.


It's about being strategic, not just efficient.

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