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7 Tips if Your Office Is Understaffed Due to COVID-19, the Flu, and/or the Holidays

CoAdvantage- Between COVID-19 surging in the U.S., the onset of flu season, and a full spate of holidays approaching, employers are at higher risk than ever of staffing shortages. Here are 7 tips for surviving over the short-term with fewer than normal workers available.

1: Triage strategically. Getting work done when short-staffed depends on clearly identifying priorities and deploying resources wisely. Use a methodology like the Eisenhower urgency/importance matrix to establish which tasks should be addressed first.

2: Prioritize quick wins. Another way to prioritize: put tasks and projects that can be successfully accomplished with fewer people first. A few successes can be energizing for a team whose morale and engagement may be suffering due to overwhelm.

3: Pare back expectations. Temporarily reduce or remove duties that add labor overhead. For example, if you normally require a time-intensive report, consider delaying it, reducing its scope, or even canceling the report during the period of short-staffing.

4: Communicate often. More meetings sounds like the exact last thing you want, but the truth is, your team will need regular check-ins, both formal and informal, during these periods. Also, try not to inadvertently disincentivize workers from providing bad news about productivity or work status; you need accurate information from them to be able to make smart decisions.

5: Get help. If you don’t have enough in-house people to get work done, outsource to a 1099 contractor or freelancer, or consider going through a temp agency. However, if you feel the underlying strategy for finding labor or dealing with the situation is lacking, reach out to a partner like CoAdvantage for more strategic advice.

6: Be smart about vacation requests. Don’t let time off requests turn into a free-for-all. Require requests to be made early, determine a set method for establishing priority/seniority, and let vacation time and even paid holidays roll over so employees don’t feel pressed to get those last few days off.

7: Look on the bright side? Bill Gates argues tactical understaffing can be advantageous. He has used an approach he calls “one-minus staffing” where he populates people with one fewer person than the minimum number needed. “When you understaff, people jump on the loose ball,” says Gates, according to news site SFGate. “You find out who the real performers are. Not so when you’re overstaffed. People sit around waiting for somebody else to do it.”

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.

 

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COVID-19 RESOURCES: Please visit our Coronavirus Resources landing page for a compilation of links and useful information for your business to utilize as you navigate the COVID-19 crisis.