Signs You May be Understaffed and How to Overcome It

Everyone is being asked to do more these days, and your team likely is no different. Between staffing shortages, new and frequent demands from clients and partners, and only having so many hours in a day, it’s easy for people to feel overwhelmed and overworked. 

Here’s how to tell if your team might actually be understaffed — and how you can help them cope.

  • Bottlenecks are appearing and can’t seem to be fixed.

    Occasionally, work will become delayed because one person is out for a day — maybe they’re sick or on vacation, but they serve as a kind of lynchpin and keep things running smoothly. On an understaffed team, there are piles of work stopped up behind multiple people who, try though they might, cannot keep up with the demands placed on them. No matter how hard they work, how efficient they operate, how much they try, there isn’t enough time to get things done on time. Deadlines are missed,  projects are delayed, customers are unhappy. The way to address this is two-fold: Hire more people and/or try to adjust expectations on timelines for projects to be completed. Talk with your team to see what changes could be made to help things move more smoothly and efficiently.  

  • The work that is done is not up to your expected standard.

    Maybe it’s unnoticed at first, but eventually, customers or clients start to complain. The quality of the product they’re used to receiving from your company has fallen; customer service is not to the same quality and level as it was in the past. This is an indication that people are rushing through tasks, not being as careful or deliberate as they have been previously, and could be an indication of the aforementioned bottlenecks developing within the team. To address this, talk with your team and provide a gentle reminder that things are slipping and need to be corrected, and see how everyone can work together to make a change. 

  • Increased emotional expressions.

      Your normally happy-go-lucky or even-keeled team is starting to show signs of emotional stress. Maybe there’s more fighting or snippy comments being made back and forth among people who are typically friendly. Maybe they’re getting mad at you or speaking up (and back) more than is normal. Maybe you hear that someone spent their lunch break crying or yelling about their stress. This is not a healthy environment, and it needs to be addressed — people who feel burned out and broken without any sign of relief in sight might start to look for a new job. In this case, talk to your team, see what’s troubling them and try to find ways to alleviate that pressure. People are more important than products. Speaking of…

  • A spike in departures.

    Employee turnover is something every company has to deal with; it’s a common occurrence in every company these days. But if you find your company is suddenly getting a steady stream of resignations, it might be time to take the group’s temperature and see what’s going on. Maybe it’s a new competitor opening up shop in town and stealing away employees, but maybe there’s something happening under your own roof to make them want to leave. Trends like this are and should be alarming. As a manager, you need to know what’s going on in order to find ways to fix it. 

  • More people calling off sick.

    If people feel like they’re not going to get a break in the high demands anytime soon, they might call out for a day to get some rest. They might encourage others to do the same — not only to restore themselves but to try and prove a point to management, how much stands still when they’re missing. This demonstration is effective, but it’s also a symptom of a bigger problem: People who feel burned out, overwhelmed, or like they’ll never catch up are not happy employees. 

The key to fixing many of these problems, or at least helping your team feel like their concerns are being heard, and that management is aware of what’s going on, is communication. Ask your workers for feedback and listen to what they say. Try to make adjustments to fix issues, at least a little, until the problems subside. You might not be able to hire 20 people to take care of everything, but people who feel their concerns are being heard are less likely to quit out of frustration, leaving their colleagues in an even more stressful situation. 

Another possible solution is to hire temporary employees — Debbie’s Staffing can help with that! We have qualified job candidates available for temporary or permanent positions, and we can help you find the staffing you need. Call us today, and let’s get started.