Just when you think we are winning our war against COVID-19, Omicron (a new variant of the coronavirus) knocks you unconscious right at the beginning of 2022.
The moment you come to, your assistant sends you a message telling you that he/she has COVID-19 and is too sick to do any work. Your supplier calls you to let you know that the delivery of your orders will be delayed because some of the workers had to be quarantined.
It then dawns on you that we still have a long way to go in our fight against the pandemic. In the meantime, you are left to tend to more tasks with very few staff members to help you out. What do you do then?
Well, here are some suggestions on how you can deal with staffing shortage:
1. Be honest about being understaffed.
Honesty is still the best policy when it comes to doing business. Having honest conversations with your clients about your challenges in delivering services on time is an indication of a strong partnership. This means that you trust each other enough to show your vulnerabilities, and that’s okay.
Everyone’s struggling with staffing shortages, even your clients. They perfectly understand your situation, so it’s best to come clean. Let them know what could go wrong and how you plan to work out the problem. They might even be able to help you out or make recommendations.
Admitting what you can and cannot achieve during a staffing shortage can help you streamline your processes and keep the trust your clients have given you.
2. Promote flexibility in the workplace.
Whether you are a CEO or a manager, you are expected to step in for those who are currently sick or in isolation in order to get tasks done on time. Except for tasks that require special skills, you can definitely be of help in completing most tasks, including documentation and administrative tasks.
By setting an example to your staff members, they, too, can adapt the roll-up-your-sleeves mindset. It will be easier to convince them to rotate into different roles and work a bit longer at least until more people are back to work.
3. Improve communication between teams.
Once you have streamlined your process, the next step is to improve your internal communication. Otherwise, what is an efficient process if communication is lacking? How will people know if they are stepping in for someone and what they will be doing without notice.
It is necessary to communicate team absences as everyone in your team should know who to connect with in case someone is not around to answer questions regarding a task. As most of your staff, if not all, are working from home, having an effective internal communication in place ensures that they are easily reachable.
4. Use shared project management tools.
Having a shared management tool, where every project or task is laid out enables everyone in your team to deliver regardless of who clocked in or not. If everyone in your team has sight of what needs to be accomplished, how, and when, starting a task or picking up where someone left off will not take too long to happen.
Conducting daily scrums can also aid in updating each other about progress made and roadblocks encountered. Moreover, it keeps everyone connected, which can be quite motivating as it makes you feel like you are not the only one overwhelmed by extra tasks.
5. Invest in remote training for workers.
One thing that the pandemic and the staffing shortage it has caused have taught us is to be prepared for the worst. Being prepared does not mean bracing yourself for the inevitable closure of your business. It means actively innovating and improving your business operation.
Now that you know you will need your team members to be flexible during a staffing shortage, arm them with the proper knowledge and training. If they are going to handle tasks that are not part of their job description, they will need to know how they are done effectively and efficiently.
Seek many skill-building and development opportunities for your team members, and soon, you will have a company run by battle-hardened professionals. As a bonus, your company will be known for its support for staff learning and growth, making it more attractive to both potential and existing team members.
6. Partner with employment agencies.
There is nothing wrong about asking for help when you need it, especially when you have a number of employees relying on your business for their mortgages. Seeking the help of employment agencies temporarily increases your workers, allowing you to focus on what you need to do and gain progress.
If you are looking for a long-term commitment, there are full-service BPOs like Remote Staff that can help you find the right team members. We offer more than just a temporary fix to your staffing shortage. Our services include ongoing support for you and your remote contractors.
7. Ask for employee feedback.
While your team members are recovering, make sure to take good care of your remaining ones. They are all you have at the moment, and you don’t want them thinking about quitting anytime soon.
What you can do is to conduct one-one-one meetings regularly with your team members. These meetings are a great way to get to know them better, know what they think about you, their colleagues, and your business. Moreover, it makes your team members feel that you care about them and their future in your company. They are assured that you will support their career growth, help them with the challenges they face at work, and listen to their concerns.
It is also important to check on your team members’ well-being once a month. Let them know that you are doing more than just a performance review. Make them feel that it is okay to air their honest thoughts and feelings and that they won’t get in trouble for doing so. The more they feel safe speaking out, the more you will learn about their strengths and weaknesses and their opinions on working for you, enabling you to improve how you deal with them and how to make your company a better working environment for your team members.
8. Create an employee referral program.
If you already have a general understanding of your team members’ opinions on your company, and they are for the most part positive, you can go ahead and start an employee referral program. This is not only a good way to solve your staffing shortage; it is also a great way to improve the reputation of your business.
An employee referral program can motivate your team members to promote your company. It’s not just the rewards they get for successfully referring people within their circle, but it’s the pride of working for a good company that drives them more. They also want other people to experience how great it is working for you.
Aside from the usual job boards and social media job ads, there are other out-of-the box hiring you can try. You can start an internship program for high school and college students or sponsor events. These can help you cast a wide net to expand your talent pool.
9. Be transparent.
Start a monthly newsletter or make regular announcements about company updates, including company revenues. This promotes a culture of ownership and empowers your team members by letting them know about the impact their work has on your company.
Whether the revenue is uplifting or disappointing, when your team members know how your company is doing, they can think about what they need to do or keep on doing to contribute. It’s a way to motivate your remaining team members during a staffing shortage to do more and step in for their colleagues who are sick or quarantined.
10. Take care of your team.
Review your employee benefits. Are they enough to keep your remaining team members? Are they attractive enough for potential employees?
Employee benefits are not just additional operational expenses. They have a huge impact on employee retention and recruitment as they make your team members feel supported, cared for, and generally happier.
If you have the means, here are some benefits you can offer your existing team members and potential employees:
- Health-care benefits
- Skills training sessions
- Work-from-home opportunities
- Year-end bonuses
- Free-shift meals
- Birthday and work anniversary gifts
- Performance incentives
- Salary increase
- Employee engagement activities
- Flexible work hours
These benefits foster a culture of excellence within your team and are quite attractive to quality employees as they make people feel more valued. On top of these benefits, treat your employees with respect. Just be a great boss and nobody will want to quit working for you due to frustration and stress. Learning to be more caring and supportive helps you gain the trust and respect of your team members.
Remember that you are not alone in your struggle with staffing shortage. The whole business community is experiencing this, albeit on different levels. One thing is for sure, though. Businesses are open to providing each other support. There are businesses like Remote Staff that specialise in supporting other businesses with their staffing needs and challenges. So hang in there. The year 2022 may have started off rough, but you have the whole year ahead to make your business grow bigger.