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Feeling Understaffed? Here’s What To Do

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 home sick 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Summertime can be busy for many companies, and with more staff heading out for summer vacations, it can spell trouble if you’re not prepared. Keep your business on track — and boost productivity — this summer, with flexible support from temporary employees:

  1. Keep core staff focused. Boost your core employees’ productivity by offloading repetitive, time-consuming, or administrative responsibilities to skilled temporary workers. Qualified temporaries can free your core team to work on strategic priorities.
  2. Cover summer vacations. Asking your direct employees to “pick up the slack” when co-workers take their vacations is a recipe for burnout and resentment. Keep morale, productivity, and quality high by maintaining adequate staff levels during the summer vacation season.
  3. Combat a summer slump. When the weather is warm, focus can dwindle. Prevent dips in productivity by rewarding your hardworking employees with a well-deserved extra-paid day off. Bring in temporary employees to fill in when needed.
  4. Ramp-up operations. If summer is your busy season, temporary employees enable you to quickly increase your capacity without increasing your fixed costs.
  5. Launch new products or enter new markets. Have the events of 2020 presented opportunities for your business to expand? Leveraging skilled contingent workers can help you dip your feet into new territory without adding extensive overhead.
  6. Access specialized skills. When you have short-term projects that require skills that none of your current employees possess, leveraging skilled temporary employees gives you instant access to the skills you need for the duration of that project.
  7. Maximize the productivity of temporary summer workers. Use these tips to ensure your temporary staff is as efficient and productive as possible from day one:
    • Give your staffing service as much detail about your needs as possible. When a temporary employee matches your requirements, they will be more successful.
    • Have workstations and supplies ready before temporary employees arrive.
    • Provide a thorough orientation, including a review of work hours, breaks and lunch schedules, safety regulations, company rules, and contact information for direct supervisors.
    • Make sure temporary employees know what’s expected of them by putting details and expectations in writing. Be sure they know what to do if they finish work ahead of schedule.
    • Check in regularly throughout the first day to gauge progress and answer questions.

If you need temporary help or just want to learn how temporary staff can help your company this summer, contact Essential Personnel today.