Whether it’s a delay in deliveries, long queues in shops or a lack of nurses and too many patients, a staff shortage can certainly cause chaos, especially at this time of the year. With disgruntled customers and stressed workers, a lack of resources can put a huge strain on everyone. It is supposed to be the time of the year where we are relaxed and happy, looking forward to our holidays and quite often this is not the case. Whatever industry you may be in, there are steps you can take to deal with a staff shortage, so that your employees don’t end up running for the nearest exit.

How to deal with a staff shortage

Give incentives to staff

It is a difficult time of the year to be working and while some people don’t mind, others want time off to spend with their friends and families. If you are struggling for cover over the festive period, why not offer incentives for staff to make it a little easier for them. For instance, paid lunches for a week, extra days off, option to work from home, casual dress code or putting on taxis if they are working until late. These are small incentives but they can go a long way to making staff feeling valued and may make them more willing to help out when the workloads are demanding.

Staff shortage - Image of Richard Branson with quote: "If you look after your staff, they'll look after your customers. It's that simple."

Take on temporary resources

Many employers don’t want the cost of temporary resources, but the truth is that over worked staff and unhappy customers are much worse. If you are in the retail industry for example, does it not make more sense to hire an extra pair of hands than having customers leaving your store unhappy and without a purchase?

Be realistic

It is important to be realistic about what you can and can’t offer to your customers with the resources you have. You have to be able to manage your customers’ expectations and ensure staff are not left overwhelmed. Don’t be frightened to tell your customers that it may take a little longer for certain things. Obviously this will depend on the sector you are in; it’s not so easy to do in social care or retail but if possible, keep the workload to a manageable level for your staff.

More breaks

This may seem like it defeats the purpose but when workloads are overwhelming, it is important to offer your staff more breaks so they can de-stress. Again, it might depend on the industry you are in but if possible, this will definitely help your staff to feel more motivated and have more energy. Many workers won’t be used to working during the festive period so beware of this and give everyone fair breaks and time to recover from the chaos!

How have you handled a staff shortage in your own business? How did you overcome these?

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