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Understaffing Problems: 5 Signs to Look Out For

September 5, 2022 | Uncategorized

Finding the optimal staffing level is challenging for any business owner or HR department. That’s why staying focused on your people is important to avoid overstaffing or understaffing problems.

If you have too many workers, you’ll overspend on payroll and experience reduced productivity because employees will be standing around looking for things to do. But, if you don’t have enough workers, you risk employee burnout and a decline in workplace morale, leading to turnover and dips in productivity.

Today, we want to focus on the understaffing side of the coin. Let’s identify some common red flags that will help you evaluate whether it’s time to bring in more talent to support your roster.

How to Know if You Have Understaffing Problems

Is your company facing the following challenges with your workforce?

1. Lower Productivity Currently Outweighs Cost Savings

It’s understandable that you want to get as much out of your employees as possible to avoid increasing headcount and incurring additional payroll costs. But, there could come the point where productivity declines to where you no longer realize the cost benefits of keeping staffing levels the same.

Business owners and HR leaders need to closely monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can help you identify whether you are at risk of understaffing. We encourage you to closely monitor performance metrics in order to identify (a) whether it’s time to bring in new talent and (b) how many new workers you need to add so that you can restore the balance of employee costs vs. workplace productivity.

2. Poor Morale in the Workplace

Depending on the size of your company, you should consider asking individual employees or managers that supervise employees to provide you with an assessment of workplace morale. You may need to ask some difficult questions to take the temperature of your workforce:

  • Are employees motivated to perform their duties?
  • Are employees worn out and tired?
  • Has there been an uptick in absenteeism or tardiness?
  • Do employees have to work more overtime lately?
  • Are there more mistakes than usual when performing duties?

Use your KPIs to support the feedback that you gather. For example, if you identify a trend of employee fatigue contributing to an increase in re-work or errors, this could be a sign that you need to bring in reinforcements to balance out the workload.

3. Spike in Turnover

If morale is not addressed, then employees could outright leave the company. You certainly don’t want to lose quality employees because of understaffing problems, so it’s important to pay attention to workplace morale before it snowballs into unwanted turnover.

The key is not to over-compensate for a dip in morale by suddenly bringing in a host of new workers. This could lead to rising payroll costs and a decline in productivity by asking managers or current employees to take time away from their duties to train many new workers.

You want to take a targeted approach to identify the areas that need the most support. Identify the greatest needs that would help out current employees and then integrate the appropriate number of workers into key roles. This will help smooth things out, ensure that current employees feel supported, and not create additional burdens for overworked talent.

4. High-Performing Talent Not as Productive

One of the best ways to gauge whether you have an understaffing problem is to look at the productivity of your highest-performing workers. If your all-star talent is struggling with their current workload or experiencing a decline in productivity, then it’s time to investigate.

  • Compare the KPIs of your top talent during the current period vs. previous periods.
  • Schedule time to discuss the workplace environment with top talent.
  • Ask for feedback about how the workload could be better distributed.
  • See if there could be an opportunity to bring in new workers to help your top talent return to previous productivity levels.

5. Substandard Customer Feedback

In addition to looking internally at issues that could be related to understaffing, take the time to evaluate customer feedback. Are your customers dissatisfied with the current performance of your company? Look for specific issues that could be tied back to an overworked and understaffed roster:

  • Are shipments going to the wrong place?
  • Are orders incorrect or incomplete?
  • Is your company struggling to meet customer deadlines or requirements?

Use customer feedback to help you form a complete picture of the current state of your workforce. Then, you’ll be prepared to take action.

Need to Add High-Quality Talent to Your Company?

Did these signs of understaffing problems resonate with you? It may be time to consider a staffing solution to optimize your workforce and find the right balance of costs and staffing levels.

Allegiance Staffing can help by performing an initial assessment of your workforce. Our experts will listen to your talent concerns, ask questions about the current state of your business, and devise a customized labor plan that fits your company.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We can help you find the right path forward to support your people, optimize costs, and increase productivity!