According to 2022 U.S. Chamber of Commerce data, there are 10 million job openings in the United States but just six million unemployed workers. Even if every job seeker became employed, businesses would still be scrambling to fill four million positions. 

Short staffing and poor retention rates can significantly impact business owners and their employers, potentially leading to safety issues, low employee morale, and even poor customer service. While challenging to combat, you might be able to manage the problem in some of the following ways. 

when you don't have enough employees

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Work With a Staffing Agency

When you work in a niche field that has long struggled to hire and retain talent, aligning with a staffing agency might be worth your consideration. Staffing agencies are established to find the most skilled employees for your open positions and can even guide you through the interviewing and hiring processes. Some of the best staffing agencies also continuously connect with job seekers and Fortune 500 companies to access the very best talent in the industry for your peace of mind. 

Prioritize Teamwork

Being short-staffed is hard on everyone from the top down. Employers can become stressed by plummeting productivity levels, and employees can feel burnt out, unappreciated, and dissatisfied. This can be a recipe for disaster when you risk losing even more employees for these reasons. 

When you don’t have enough employees to manage your current workload, ensure your current team works together. Encourage employees to help each other and consider putting yourself on the front line to support your workers. If your employees see you helping with daily operations and supporting struggling workers, they might be more likely to follow your lead. 

Communicate With All Employees

As an employer or manager, you might naturally try to keep all business challenges to yourself to prevent employees from feeling stressed, but communication and transparency can be more important than you think. 

For example, if an employee leaves and you become short-staffed, you can advise your team that someone has exited the business. Along with providing them with information about any changes to their current workload due to that loss, you can reassure them that you’re already searching for a replacement so they know their increased workload is temporary. This might prevent unnecessary frustration and stress. 

Prioritize Workloads

When you don’t have enough employees to perform all the necessary tasks, it’s easy for your workplace to fall into chaos. Workers can become overwhelmed, and it’s hard for employers to know what will get done and what won’t. That’s why prioritizing workloads can be crucial. When you don’t have enough workers to ensure everything gets done, put your tasks in their order of importance. Employees will know which jobs to focus on first and which can wait. 

Cross-Train Your Team

Cross-training describes having one primary job within a company but multiple skills to fulfill different roles. Cross-training can be important when your business is understaffed and needs extra hands across numerous departments. 

While your goal might be to avoid burnout or stressed employees, being able to place your resources where they’re most needed might mean you’re able to plug critical gaps and make it through this challenging period. 

Explore Automation

We’re in an advanced technological age, so we have many machines and software at our disposal to turn previously labor-intensive tasks into efficient, streamlined ones. If your business hasn’t yet evolved to include helpful technology, now might be the right time to explore your options. The more automation your business has, the more tasks you might be able to complete with fewer employees and in less time. 

Outsource Jobs

While you might be daunted by the prospect of trusting a third party with your business operations, it might make your team’s workload more manageable. Agencies can assist with HR duties, payroll, and basic administration tasks, and you can even rely on marketing companies to take on tasks like social media management and content writing. 

Some employers outsource tasks temporarily to combat a temporary staffing shortage, while others request such services on a short-term contract basis. You have the freedom and flexibility to consider both. 

Reward Your Team

When there aren’t enough resources to manage your workload, your team is likely feeling the pressure. They might be working longer hours, skipping breaks, and working at speed to keep productivity levels high. 

Don’t forget to reward your team for their efforts to help them feel appreciated for the extra effort they’re putting in. Offer bonuses, allow some employees to work remotely if their job allows, and check in with them regularly to see what you can do to make their lives easier. 

Being understaffed is never a position business owners want to be in, but it’s more common than you might think. However, if you were to take some of the actions above, you might be able to ease the burden on your team and make it through this challenging time without a significant impact on morale and productivity.