If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you may know that I am a huge proponent of improving employee experience. EX, as it’s sometimes called, can increase profitability by increasing employee retention, which correlates to client retention.

It is widely known that payroll is generally the highest expense a growing company will have. With a high employee turnover rate, you’re paying a full salary to train people who aren’t operating at their full potential because they’re in a new environment and a bit uncertain.

One surefire way to hurt the employee experience is to overload your team with too much work. Your employees won’t always tell you honestly when they can’t handle more work. Some people are terrified that they’ll be a burden to everyone around them, so saying “no” or “complaining” about having too much work is out of the question. The same goes for those who are insecure about the value they bring to the company. They’re afraid that if they say no, they’ll be viewed as less valuable and be let go. 

In either case, if these people are allowed to take on too many clients, they’re going to provide sub-par work to most or all of them as the squeaky wheels get the grease. 

So the ideal scenario is that you’d have a safe environment and a culture of proactive and open communication, but that’s not always realistic.  

You can, however, take the burden of responsibility off the shoulders of your team by tracking their bandwidth and setting boundaries yourself.

How To Track Employee Bandwidth

Last week we talked about measuring and managing profitability, which included time tracking. Time tracking is often loathed by employees and it can be notoriously difficult to attain consistent levels of adoption across your entire team.

However, if you want to track profitability OR bandwidth, it’s essential to track how much time your team is spending on each client.

The bright side is that there is a method available to track bandwidth if you aren’t tracking time or haven’t been able to get consistent adoption. 

“No Time Tracking” Method

If you went through the process to measure and manage your profitability at the client level, you should be assigning a specific amount of time for your team to spend on each client’s work.  

If you’re having trouble getting your team to track their time accurately, the simplest way of gauging bandwidth is to look at the target time assigned for each client managed by the client and subtract that from their total bandwidth. 

Here’s an example:

Employee 1’s total fillable work hours: 147.56
Total time assigned to employee 1’s clients: 130.2
Difference: 17.36 hrs
Estimated Bandwidth: 11.76%

So we took the average number of weeks in a month (4.34) and multiplied it by a full-time schedule (40 hours), getting 173.6 hours. 

However, it’s wise to give your team time for all of the non-client work, technical issues, client demand fluctuations, and other unplanned issues, so we provided a 15% buffer of 6 hours a week, or 26.04 hours of wiggle room in a month, leaving 147.56 “fillable hours”.

Next, just subtract the total monthly assigned hours of all clients for which the employee is responsible and divide the difference by the total fillable hours. This gives us our estimated bandwidth for that employee.

Do this with all employees, adjusting as clients come or go, and you’ll have a decent idea of how much extra work you can take on without hiring a new employee. 

Time Tracking Method

So the preferred method of tracking employee bandwidth is to actually have them track their time.  

If they’re tracking time then you just look at their tracked time vs their total work hours and divide the difference by their total hours.

It looks like this: 

Employee 1’s total work hours: 173.6
Total time tracked: 149.31
Difference: 24.29 hrs
Estimated Bandwidth: 13.99% 

Introducing Complexity

Now the nuance here is that your employees will often fill their entire workable hours regardless of the number of clients you give them. They don’t want to look like they’re sloughing off if you’re paying them salary, and they want to get paid more if they’re paid hourly, so they’ll find stuff to do, even if it isn’t essential client work. There are always little things to do in marketing that can fill up a lot of time, such as research, reporting, calls, email, audits, and so on.

You’ll get a bit more of a true measurement if you compare the time tracked for each client to the assigned hours for each client, much as you would do if you were measuring profitability (two birds, one stone). If an employee is working 120 hours a month on client work and 50+ hours on “miscellaneous” or “admin” work, they probably have more bandwidth. 

So if you see an employee spending 6 hours in a given week on a client that should be getting 4 or fewer hours a week, you can ask about it. Sometimes the client was more needy. Sometimes the employee forgot to swap the task or client for which they were tracking time. Other times, they were just looking to fill time.

To avoid this scenario, be sure to let your team know that you would rather they come in at 35 hours tracked in a week than to fill all 40 hours with fluff. You’ll want to create a safe environment in which honesty and transparency are rewarded, rather than punished, and this is part of that kind of safe environment. 

You can also just let your team know that your goal is to see 34 hours of client work or less each week, with the rest of the hours being misc. Sometimes that freedom to work on the myriad random tasks can relieve a lot of stress around time tracking.

Agency-wide Bandwidth

So, knowing employee bandwidth is great, but how does it help?

Well, as stated, you can determine who can take on another client or where you need to have other team members help, but it can also help you determine your agency-wide bandwidth. 

Knowing the bandwidth of your entire agency is helpful because you can determine when to hire and whether bringing on new clients is going to be a strain on your team or not. Straining your team lowers morale and hurts the client experience, so it’s a good idea to avoid it when possible. 

The obvious way to determine your agency bandwidth is to look at the total work hours vs total time tracked each month of all employees, or fillable hours vs assigned hours. 

Knowing When To Hire

When to hire is a bit tricky, as it will differ a lot depending on the size of your average client or the lead in question, your pipeline and lead flow, your sales cycle, and your churn and turnover rates. However, the easiest way to approach it is to focus in on the easier metrics to track: 

  • Agency-wide bandwidth
  • Projected assigned hours of avg. lead
  • Current Pipeline
  • Avg. Sales cycle 

Say your agency has 10% capacity remaining, or 59.02 monthly hours remaining for a team of 4. If you have 6 prospects in your pipeline with an average size that would require 16 hours per month and you have an average close rate of 50% on a 4 week sales cycle, you’d be looking to bring on a projected 48 hours of work and cut your bandwidth to 11.02 hours for your whole agency. 

It’s definitely time to hire. 

It’s a bit subjective depending on your ability to bring in good talent, but if you multiply the projected hours requirement of your average prospect by 3-5 it can make a good threshold for determining when to hire.

If you assign 4 work hours to each client and you have 25+ hours of free bandwidth, you’re probably ok for a bit. Get down to 12-16 hours and you’re going to be in trouble if you get an influx of leads or a bigger client. 

After all, hiring and onboarding an employee takes time and getting them up and running is not always quick and seamless. It takes time and attention from you and others on your team and it’s best to bring on new employees before you REALLY need them.


At the end of the day, measuring the bandwidth of your employees is a great way to avoid getting blindsided by the need for more help. It helps you understand when you may be pushing employees too far or not far enough. It’s well worth tracking this as early as possible in your agency growth, especially if you’re already going through the process of measuring profitability at the client level, which is even more important and helpful.