by Grace Barone
"The Great Resignation", "The Big Quit", or "The Great Reshuffle". In 2021 the U.S. was hit with a massive employment issue when over 47 million people quit their job. 92% of people said the pandemic made them feel that life is too short to stay in a job they weren't passionate about. While this group epiphany has made the quality of life among Americans better, it has left many businesses extremely understaffed. While this movement first gained momentum after the initial shock of the pandemic, many businesses have not been able to recover.
Small businesses and minimum wage jobs seem to be suffering the most. The outcome of this massive shift in employment has created a laundry list of problems for everyone. Not enough staff means attention to detail is suffering, customer service is declining and business hours are getting shorter. In many cases the work load of three people is now on one person. This is creating an endless cycle of burnt out staff and unhappy customers.
While we may not know when this will change. There are steps business owners can take to combat being understaffed. We've created a list of ways to help employee retention and get more employees at your small business.
Communicate with Staff
Acknowledging the Problem
Communication with staff is key while being understaffed. As a business owner you should acknowledge the fact you're understaffed. You need to get your team on the same page. The first step in doing that is making it known that you as the business owner realizes your business is understaffed. When employees feel like their boss is ignoring issues, that's when more problems arise. It's a known fact that thousands of businesses are facing staffing issues so there's nothing to feel bad or embarrassed about. Be candid and open with the staff you have. The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue or act like everything is fine.
Create a Game Plan
Once you've had a conversation with your staff about being understaffed, the next thing you need to do is create a new game plan. Figure out what needs to be done and how you want to approach things. Will you be putting more effort into hiring people? Will you restructure how your business operates? Are you going to cross train employees? Meet with your team and discuss what the best plan of action is going to be for the business. Make sure you take the time to listen to your employees thoughts and ideas. Encourage management and staff to communicate openly. It can promote mutual respect, honesty, and trust.
Build Relationships with Staff
Its important to maintain a positive workplace culture whether you're understaffed or not. No one want's to work at a place with zero comradery. If your business is severely understaffed, the stress will be obvious and hard to hide. This is why being open an honest with your staff is important. After a stressful shift make sure you thank your team and take a moment to say something positive. Employee engagement increases when they feel valued and supported at work, which can result in improved job satisfaction and retention rates.
Try and host team building activities or outings. Going out together and doing something fun is a great way to build relationships. Going out after work for a drink or dinner is something simple and easy. Planning things like going to an escape room or laser tag may sound juvenal but if your staff is working hard day in and day out, letting loose and relaxing may be exactly what they need. These two examples are not only fun, but it promotes team building at the same time.
Implementing some sort of retention program can help combat a high turn over streak. Staff want to feel like their higher ups truly care about them. If you're running through a revolving door of new employees every few weeks you may want to consider SPIF (special performance initiative fund). This is essentially bonuses for a certain level of performance. If you have employees that have stuck with your business while being understaffed, compensating them for going above and beyond will be appreciated. Making this known to new hires may entice them to stay. When employees are rewarded great performance; you facilitating high quality work, you acknowledge employee efforts, and you're bettering your chances of staff staying.
After you've met with your team and created a new game plan. One of the topics, you should have discussed is priorities. What tasks are vital, and what can be put off for the time being. Say you run a restaurant. Obviously vital tasks are preparing food, serving guests and cleaning. If you find your staff wasting time and effort on things like decorative table setting, or rewriting daily specials on a sign. It may be time to put those things on the backburner until you're properly staffed again.
Another way to re-prioritize is rethinking project calendars. Get all of your projects and due dates organized. Figure out what can realistically get done, and done well. Getting things done at a later date but having them be a quality you're happy with is better than dumping work on employees, and having things be rushed and sloppy. Prioritize the needs of your core clients and recognize that a team of 5 is not going to get things done as fast as a team of 10. Giving your staff time to get things done will create a better environment than over loading schedules and demanding unrealistic completion dates
Reconfiguring your staff is another great way to increase efficiency while being understaffed. Pay attention to your staff, try and see if any of them have a passion or extra skill when it comes to certain tasks. They might be open to doing more work in that area. Also, if there is a part of their job that they do not particularly enjoy, perhaps another person might be interested in taking on those responsibilities.
Put more effort into training. When businesses are understaffed, many go the route of "train as you go" to save time and just get employees working. This creates situations where new employees don't know how to do everything. You may find your long standing employees pulling more weight than the others, just because they were trained differently. When employees feel like they're doing more work than others, it can create tension and bad relationships between employees.
Does each department or team at your organization have a different workload? You may want to cross-train staff with lighter workloads and redeploy them to the teams that are overwhelmed and might use more help. This not only helps manage heavy work loads, but it gives your staff more experience as well. This will also give you a better idea as to if some employees are better fit for a different position. Putting employees in positions that they like more and are better at will increase overall efficiency at your business.
Clover POS Systems and Apps
Technology was created to help and make work easier. Many businesses do not utilize the technology available to them. Clover offers POS systems that will for sure increase your businesses efficiency. Their POS systems have built in sales tracking and business reporting capabilities. Manually tracking sales and doing your own business reporting may be something you've put on hold while being understaffed. With a Clover POS system, all of the work is done for you. This will free up time to deal with essential tasks.
Another great thing about the Clover devices is all the different apps that you can download. There are countless apps on the clover app market that can help your business be more efficient no matter what business you're running. Clover has apps for salons, pizzerias, offices and so much more. There are even employee management apps that can help you with scheduling, time cards and even hiring new employees.
The app "JazzHR" can streamline your hiring process with its easy to use software. All you need to do is create a job within the app and with one click, it will get posted to over 20 free job boards. The app integrates with text messaging and social media. This will increase response rate and accelerate time to hire. Your hiring team can track, rate and discuss candidates in real time. JazzHR also makes interview scheduling easy, you're able to view availability and schedule interviews with multiple team members. Important paperwork can be sent with fully imbedded e-signatures which will increase candidate engagement and save time. You're also able to customize a careers page for your website. This app cuts the time to hire by 50% and can be a life saver for an understaffed business.
Restaurants have greatly suffered during this time of understaffing. Clovers newest device, the Clover Kiosk is a stand alone device that allows customers to order and pay without the need for an employee. This can be a great addition to any quick-serve restaurant. Say you have one employee taking orders and one employee making them. During a busy rush that can become extremely overwhelming. Having one long line is not efficient at all. With the Clover Kiosk you can add an extra line which minimizes wait time and takes pressure off your employees.
The kiosk can also be helpful during slow hours. If your restaurant gets slow for a few hours, its not very efficient to have your employees standing around waiting for customers to come in. If you have a kiosk, your employee can do tasks that haven't been on the top of your priority list. Your employees can also bring focus back to customer service, being understaffed may have hurt your customer experience unintentionally. The kiosk can be an extra employee that you won't need to worry about quitting on you. If you'd like to read more about the Clover Kiosk, read our other blog here.
Maintaining a Successful Business while Being Understaffed
Being understaffed is not a good feeling. If you're feeling like your business will never be fully staffed again keep pushing through! Take steps to make the staff you do a well oiled machine. Be honest with your staff, get a game plan together and restructure as needed. Don't forget about all of the great technology available to businesses that will help with tedious tasks, creating a more efficient work flow and hiring more people.
If you'd like to learn more about the Clover devices and apps that can help your understaffed business, fill out the form below or visit us at getvms.com. We believe in small businesses can help you get a Clover device, set up a website, assist with apps and so much more.