Handling workloads with a shorthanded staff



Handling workloads with a shorthanded staff
Image credit: Geralt/Pixabay
Distributing a heavy workload to a shorthanded staff can be a difficult scenario. Over the past few years, organizations have been laying off, not filling positions when people retire and/or are simply not hiring as many people. In this type of situation, you will have to deal with the consequences of a shorthanded staff.


If you don’t have enough people to cover both the basic and higher operational needs, it boils down to doing a lot more with less. It often feels like there aren't enough hours to get the work done. When this occurs, it can be a trying time with stress levels highly increased while trying to get tasks done. There are a few approaches that can be taken to juggle the situation and still retain productivity levels.

Cross-train employees

In general, there are many benefits to cross-training employees. Not only is it good for the business, but for the employee as well. However, in times where there are not enough people to adequately individual jobs, sometimes it helps to merge and redistribute tasks.

For those managers or supervisors who have no control over when employees are let go because those decisions are made from higher level management, cross-training staff members to know jobs other than their own is a great way to ensure no lapse in necessary coverage occurs.

Cross-training is an invaluable initiative during times of being short-staffed because it ensures continuity and no disruption of deadlines, workflow or customer service.

Consider temp agencies

Temporary or hourly employees may help fill some of the workflow gaps. While hiring new staff may not be an option due to fiscal constraints, looking at temporary or part-time employees (neither of which get paid as much nor receive employee benefits) may be affordable.

There are many agencies that have skilled workers waiting to fill positions and this option may help solve the problem of being short-staffed. Temporary agencies are also excellent solutions to find individuals who can handle office-related tasks such as data entry, phones or filing and free up full-time staff members to focus on mission objectives and other industry-related projects.
Pitch in and help reduce the workload

Taking some time to step in and help alleviate some of the workload stress is likely to do wonders for your employees. Not only will it probably raise staff morale, but can also make your employees feel valued and cared about. Granted, a supervisor's plate is probably just as full, but pitching in, even if from time to time, helps foster a teamwork-oriented work environment.

Even just a few minutes a week wherever possible can make a world of difference and go a long way in helping reduce the burdens that naturally come along with having a shorthanded staff. When employees see you helping them, chances are they'll be willing to go the extra mile in your time of need as well.

Consider hiring retirees

Another potential solution is to hire retirees on either a consultant or part-time basis. Since retirees are already likely receiving benefits, they won't have this requirement for you to have to expend. Many retirees find after they are no longer working they miss the daily grind and may not mind doing it on an occasional or part-time basis. Since retirees already know the business, have lots of knowledge and can easily assimilate in the workplace, this could be a win-win for everyone, the management, staff and the retiree.

These are a few ways for managers can cope with managing an understaffed work environment. Dealing with this kind of situation is not easy for all involved and can get both hectic and stressful. While these suggested solutions are not really long-term resolutions, they may at least help get past some rough times in the workplace and help ease the immediate burdens.

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