Controlling overhead is essential in our current economy, but understaffing causes chronic problems that can hold you and your company back. If you’re feeling the squeeze, take these steps:
Seeing the results of “quiet quitting” or the Great Resignation among your teams? If so, you may be understaffed.
Temporary periods of understaffing occur in every business. If yours has been going on for more than a few months, you may be chronically understaffed. Chronic understaffing is a certainty if it persists even when you’re not actively hiring.
Chronic understaffing hurts your company. It costs you time, talent, opportunities, and cash. Here’s why you can’t let chronic understaffing continue – and how to beat it without breaking your payroll budget.
Feeling the impact of understaffing? Essential Personnel can provide qualified temporaries to alleviate overwork, keep employees happy and help you get work done, even when you aren’t hiring full-time employees.
What Is Understaffing?
Understaffing occurs when a business doesn’t employ enough workers to cover all its shifts, production tasks, or other obligations. There simply aren’t enough people to do everything that needs to be done.
Temporary staff shortages differ from understaffing. Examples of temporary shortages include seasonal flu that sends half your team homesick or a sudden surge in orders that sends your existing team scrambling beyond their typical workday. Positions that stay open as you actively look to fill them also offer examples of a temporary shortage.
Temporary shortages are just that: temporary. They have a defined cause and a defined end. A temporary shortage ends when your team beats the flu and comes back to work, when an order surge ends, or when you hire the right people to fill those job openings.
Chronic understaffing looks different. The causes aren’t always clear. And the situation has no defined end. There is no date by which you can say, “This is when the workload will match the number of people available.”
You Can’t Afford Chronic Understaffing
The most obvious cost of chronic understaffing is missing business opportunities because you don’t have enough people to meet demand. Without enough sales staff, you miss opportunities to open new accounts. Without enough line workers, you can’t meet your production deadlines – and may lose customers.
Yet the effects of chronic understaffing go deeper. Rather than simply let go of potential new clients or frustrate customers, the business may work its existing employees harder.
Most people can pick up one or two extra tasks on occasion. However, when they’re asked to work beyond their limits for too long. Their productivity drops. Their attention and focus decline. They miss deadlines, speak curtly to customers, or even risk injuring themselves or others.
As your employees burn out, they leave. When they leave, they take their skills, experience, and institutional knowledge with them. Work slows further, and mistakes pile up faster as you scramble to hire and train someone to fill the gap. Chronic understaffing eats ever more deeply into your bottom line.
Balancing the Staff – Budget Equation
Chronic understaffing is a treatable condition. Here’s how to get a handle on your staffing needs and ensure you have the people you need – without overextending your budget.
- Know who you need.
What are your current staffing needs? If you don’t know exactly where your shortages lie, you won’t be able to attract or hire the people you need to overcome those shortfalls.
Start by examining which shifts and tasks are essential. Compare these to how much your current employers can handle each day. Get employees’ input about their workloads – most people want to be engaged at work, but not overburdened.
- Consider flexible staffing arrangements.
When a chronic staffing shortage is related to seasonal or routine work, temporary staff can help ease the burden on your core teams. Adding temporary staff to handle packing and shipping during a holiday rush, for instance, can ensure that your core staff is available to take orders and answer customer questions without having to worry about the warehouse.
Contracting with experienced individuals can also help you beat chronic understaffing in the face of difficult or specialized tasks. A contract IT specialist, for instance, can allow your core team to stay on task instead of having to learn the ins and outs of a new technology build. Outsourcing work can also help you distribute the burden, so your long-term employees find their workload sustainable.
- Work with a staffing partner.
Staffing firms specialize in helping companies evaluate their staffing needs and respond in cost-conscious ways. Your staffing partner can help you clarify key tasks and roles, connect with available talent, and find contract or temporary staff to help you make ends meet when big challenges arise.
Need to get work done without increasing headcount? Contact Essential Personnel today to stay optimally staffed.
For more information about Essential Personnel, visit www.essentialpersonnel.com.