As a business owner, your primary, everyday goal is to keep the business running. There are other goals, of course; goals for the future relating to growth, expansion, and revenue, but these are separate from the simple, everyday need to get the company from the start to the end of the day without any mishaps.There is one situation that can greatly impact the goal of getting your business through a standard day: sudden staff shortages. Short staffing is inevitable; sometimes, the planets align and numerous members of staff have to call in sick or need to take a personal day at the exact same time. Unfortunately, there is relatively little that you can do to prevent this scenario; it’s just a quirk of running a business.
However, you can counteract the impact of short staffed days with the following ideas…#1 - Use the right tools
As employees begin to notify you that they will be absent from work, it is imperative that you are able to call for reinforcements without delay. You need to know, immediately, which non-scheduled members of your staff may be able to offer cover, as well as how to contact them. Thankfully, this is relatively simple to achieve with products such as Deputy's workforce management software, which can allow you to quickly check schedules and get in touch with any employees who might be able to offer assistance. If you don’t currently have workforce management software, then rectifying this should be your first priority when seeking to overcome short staffing issues.
#2 - Keep an updated list of work that can be performed off-siteYou may find that often, members of staff are not able to work at your premises - they may, for example, feel too unwell to travel, but can work quite comfortably from the comfort of their own home. As a result, it can be useful to establish systems that allow staff to work from home if required. Any non-time-sensitive administrative tasks can be reserved for such a scenario, or you could compile a list of tasks (such as cleaning the company's email list or organizing future workplace events) that do not necessarily require an employee to actually be in the office. When an employee calls to say they need to work from home due to unforeseen circumstances, you can then quickly consult the list and assign the most important task. You may still need to call staff in to cover regardless, but it can help to ease stress if you know background tasks are still being accomplished.
#3 - Draft explanations for customersWhen you are trying to reassign duties and ensure that all essential business tasks are completed, finding the time to inform customers of the issues the company is experiencing - and how it may influence how quickly they receive orders or respond to contact - is always a challenge. However, you can simplify this process by drafting social media posts and emails in advance. All you need to include is a brief explanation that staff shortages are potentially causing delays and apologise for this, and then all you need to do is alter the time and date before using as needed.
In conclusionWhile every business will run short on staff every once in awhile, you can ensure that the impact of such a scenario is mitigated by implementing the ideas above.