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How to Pitch For Headcount in Tech - TODAY

Most of us have just passed the one hundred day mark for working remotely. The spotlight isn’t always on I.T.; typically you only get called out when something is wrong. Now, we’re in a unique position where all eyes are on you and your team. Because of that, we’ve been working extra hard as a team, feeling like our jobs are on the line, while technology is at the forefront of every company. Most of us have done a great job and are finally getting some accolades that are probably long overdue.

Now that the dust has settled and we have to focus on more of the 2020 projects that have been delayed, we need to get headcount for those projects. What I’ve been hearing from managers going to their bosses for headcount all falls within a common theme. “You’re doing such a great job as-is - why would we give you MORE headcount?” From a financial perspective, headcount in dollars and cents makes sense. You can do more with less, however, it’s important to take into account the human element.  

To help you to pitch to your boss to get you that headcount that you so desperately need, there are several points you can touch on. Here are the top 8 things to consider before making that pitch to make sure that you get what you want:

One word: Burnout. 

This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why you need the help you’re asking for. It doesn’t matter how good an employee is, if they’re being worked too hard for too long, they will eventually burn out. It is inevitable. By not hiring the headcount that your team needs, your manager is setting your entire team at risk of burning out by pushing them too hard with no end in sight. This would be a good time to remind your manager that if everyone gets burned out and quits, not only will they have to hire the headcount you originally asked for, they’ll have to hire even more to replace everyone who left, and they’ll have to make time to remotely train them, too. Wouldn’t it just be less work to give you a little help now? If the team is already stretched so thin, losing even one employee could make the whole team fail. That leads us to thinking about time off...

Lack of a vacation destination = faster burnout. 

Typically, people recharge with a vacation that they take either by themselves or with their family. People have not been able to take time off, and even if they have, they’re still in their house, which has now become their workplace. We typically recharge on a trip that takes us away from our everyday life and our job, which we’re unable to do currently. That said, depending on where you live, once the different phases shift, people will be taking destination vacations, and if your team is too small to accommodate that, employees will begin to resent the company and their leadership, and this may lead to them resigning. 

You need backups.

Yes, your team has been working strong for months now, but eventually, something is going to happen. Someone will get sick, or have a trip to take, or a family emergency, and they won’t be able to complete their responsibilities. The problem with this happening in this scenario is that there is no one to pick up the slack. When everyone on a team is already working to full capacity, there’s no room to adapt. There’s no flexibility. A team needs wiggle room for workloads to fluctuate, and without that extra headcount, it isn’t possible. Make sure your manager knows that if they don’t get ahead of things now, things will inevitably fall to the wayside sooner rather than later. 

Survival is not the same as growth.

The big theme of a pandemic has been survival, whether it be in the literal sense of surviving a deadly virus or a more figurative meaning. In terms of companies and the workforce, this has meant trying desperately to stay afloat, minimize layoffs and furloughs, and find some way to continue making money even as the economy sank. Now that things are starting to pick up, it’s time to look ahead to the future. Survival mode is not the same as growth mode, and if your boss wants your company to do more and do it better, staying small won’t do the job. In order to do more, create more, and be more, you need to hire more. 

You can hire someone to do a dual role. 

If your boss doesn’t want to hire someone to just help your team, they could split headcount and get one person to do several different tasks. A floater between your department and someone else’s could be just enough to help take the strain off of you but still make your boss happy enough to sign off on. If your manager is really resistant of hiring, this could be a good compromise. 

If you don’t help your team work less, they’ll do it anyway.

If you’re at the point where you’re asking your manager to hire, your team has already discussed that they need help. They’re all overworked, and they’re all talking about it. If they don’t get the help that they need, their ability to work hard is going to diminish. With or without permission, they’re going to stop working at full capacity. If their hard work and success is only being rewarded with being overworked, they will eventually decide to stop being so successful, as if to say, “See? We can’t do all the work alone. We really need more help.” Does your boss want it to get to that point? Definitely not, even if they need a reminder. 

If employees don’t feel valued, they WILL leave.

Part of feeling valued is feeling supported, and part of feeling supported is being given the tools you need to do your job. If you’re telling your manager that you need more headcount, and they refuse, they’re telling you they don’t value you. The longer this goes on, the more likely it is that you’ll pick up a call from a recruiter when they call, take a few interviews, and eventually accept a new job. You don’t want it to sound like a threat, but it can’t hurt to give your boss a hint so you’re both on the same page. 

Suggest hiring a contractor. 

If all else fails and you can’t get headcount for an FTE, ask for a contractor that can help ease the pain for the short-term. Even better, hire a contractor on a contract-to-hire basis. After everyone sees how needed they are, it’ll be an easier transition to get that headcount and have them stay on. 

At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do, but ONLY you know what your team needs, and DON’T be afraid to FIGHT for it.

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