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Managing staff shortages

Dominic Hopkinson
Dom Hopkinson
8 mins

5 tips to manage staff shortages

As shift-based businesses reopen and tap into a renewed consumer enthusiasm and demand for outstanding experiences, there are fresh challenges to attract and retain the quality staff who help your business stand out. Yes it’s an uphill task, but it’s not impossible.

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This article will help you navigate this gap with ideas on how to optimise your processes, even with a shortage of resources.

A word of caution – don’t aim to return to the way you were working before the pandemic hit. The goal here is to rethink how your business will operate in a market where consumers – as well as staff – are more discerning about spending and the jobs or careers they want to pursue.

Be open

Get your people together and let them know the position you’re in as a business. This isn’t just good leadership, it shows that you understand people are also invested in your success, as their jobs and careers depend on it. By informing them that you are in a tough staffing situation, you’re letting them know why the demands on their job might be more than before.

Your team will tend to be more understanding and proactive when they are given ownership of a situation.

Open lines of communication also provide employees with an opportunity to bring up specific challenges they’re facing that you may be unaware of. Listening to what they have to say can give you incredible insight into the situation, and can help you to develop ideas to manage it. 

Phase it out

Identify your shortages and list them out. Where do you need more people? From this list, pick out the processes that are critical to your operations.

Prioritise stability, followed by growth – and always serve your existing staff first.

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Phasing out your recovery over the span of say, a year, will help you plan and budget as practically as possible.

Let your team know that the resource crunch is not going to be a permanent feature and give them a timeline by which they can expect to be in a better position in terms of having enough support. 

Upskill your team

One of the smartest things to do is to invest in your existing team.  It might have been difficult to train or promote your team members recently. So when the time is right, identify those who have the potential to upskill or be promoted into new roles.

Get your team managers together and identify opportunities that may be hiding in plain sight.

Training doesn’t always have to be an expensive, outsourced affair. Explore internal training as a more cost-effective but equally impactful alternative.

Invest in the right tools and automation

There are a number of automation tools that are available to businesses that want to streamline their operations, whether in scheduling, HR, payroll, or anything else.

Look at the understaffed areas of your business that can be automated. Even if a certain division in your company has enough staff, consider how their time can be utilised more effectively if they have tools to manage their repetitive manual tasks, such as time-tracking.

Remember that automation is not a replacement for your actual staff. When used effectively, it empowers people to focus on bigger and better things rather than time and labour-intensive tasks.

Embrace flexibility

Where you can, give your team the option to work flexibly and plan the staff roster as far in advance as possible.

The way we work has changed considerably, and being rigid about your policies could give your staff a reason to look for new employers. If your business is facing a talent shortage, it’s critical for you to focus on retaining your existing employees, otherwise you risk worsening your position.

While there are plenty of things that have changed, the basics of managing people – through guidance and leadership – will always remain the same.

Don’t be disheartened by the challenges of trying to attract and retain the right staff for your business. It’s something everyone is grappling with. Be willing to embrace a changing world, and adapt your business to make the most of it.

Guide to manage people

Blog cover photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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