Business owners, managers and C-level executives alike are all trying to maintain balancing acts in their workforces. You don’t want so many workers that you keep catching them sitting around doing nothing and waiting for customers to walk in. But you also don’t want overloaded employees with too much work or too many customers to get to in a timely manner. Having a staffing shortage may not hurt your payroll, but it could impact your ability to effectively serve clients. Finding the perfect workforce balance to minimize costs but maximize productivity takes careful planning and the ability to anticipate your needs.

Signs That You’re Understaffed

Whether you’re understaffed or overstaffed may just be a matter of perception. As an employer, you may think you have the right size staff, but your employees could feel differently – as could your customers. For example, a 2010 Gallup survey found that 40 percent of workers said their companies were understaffed.[1] One study found that 63 percent of IT departments were understaffed.[2] Another report revealed that 80 percent of marketers surveyed said they felt overloaded and their companies were understaffed.[3]

But as an executive, you may be more concerned with your profits than how your employees feel about your staffing practices. However, you shouldn’t just brush this off as employees griping about having to work too much. Understaffing can lead to an erosion of the quality of your products and/or services, so it would be wise to pay attention to these signs that you might be understaffed:

  1. Mounting Overtime: Paying your employees overtime week after week is a great way to ruin your payroll budget halfway through the year. If you notice that your employees are regularly racking up overtime hours, it could be a sign that your staff needs help.
  2. Customer Complaints: Though not all customer complaints are related to your staffing levels, many are. If your customers are complaining that they have to wait too long to be helped or feel rushed when they do get service from one of your workers, an extra staff member or two may make a big difference.
  3. Constant Errors: When workers are spread too thin, mistakes will occur. It could be that your employees are rushing from one duty to the next or that they are mentally and physically overwhelmed. Whatever the reason, constant mistakes will turn off your clientele and make them look elsewhere for your products and/or services.
  4. Missed Deadlines: There aren’t too many businesses that can afford to be lenient with deadlines. Whether it’s internal deadlines or deadlines for clients, being late is indicative of a lack of professionalism. It also could mean that your employees are overloaded and unable to realistically meet their deadline requirements.
  5. Employees Saying it’s Busy When it’s Not: One of the telltale signs of staffing shortages is your employees discussing how busy they are and your numbers not backing it up. If you find that your workers keep talking about how busy they are, but your sales figures don’t reflect that, you may have a staffing shortage problem.
Infographic about the signs that you're understaffed.

How to Respond to a Staffing Shortage

When you determine that you may have an understaffing issue, it can be difficult to know what to do. On one hand, you know that an extra worker or two will alleviate some pressure on your current staff, but on the other, you may not feel you can afford to add more full-time workers. To truly determine whether or not you need to beef up your staff, ask yourself the following questions:
Picture of a question mark.
  • Do you or your employees feel the staffing shortage all day, every day; or is it only at certain times of the day, month or year?
  • How efficient is your staff? Is there a lot of time wasted? Are they taking too long to complete certain tasks?
  • Are you expecting or hoping for any upcoming business growth?
  • Are your deadlines and work expectations realistic?

Your answers to these questions will help you determine whether or not you need more workers. If your staffing shortage is only for brief periods of the day or only during certain times in the year, temporary staffing may be the way to go. If you find that your deadlines are unrealistic or that your staff is highly inefficient, it could mean that you simply need to reorganize your staff and focus on management. However, if you are feeling staffing shortages during a time when you are hoping to grow your business, hiring permanent, high-performing employees may be best.

One common strategy for business owners and hiring managers who are unsure of their staffing needs is to use a temp-to-perm approach. This allows you to hire an employee on a temporary basis to see if the worker is a fit for your organization and if your company actually needs more staff.

Whether you need full-time workers, part-time staff, managers, C-level executives or temporary employees, TPG Staffing is prepared to help you meet your workforce needs. Staffing shortages don’t need to be the norm for your company. We’ve coordinated the workforce needs for dozens of businesses across the United States and can help in any industry. Contact us today at 732-246-7100 to begin remedying your staffing shortage.

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/143480/four-workers-say-company-understaffed.aspx

[2] http://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/83412-study–63-percent-of-companies–it-departments-are-understaffed

[3] http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/80-marketers-say-they-are-overloaded-and-understaffed-166339/