Short staffing, especially when unexpected, can be extremely stressful! It’s hard to fill the gaps in knowledge and manpower. This can leave you in a state of panic, and things can start falling behind. Here are some ways to help you prepare for and survive short staffing.
The best way to make sure all your bases are covered is to try to prepare for a day when several people call in sick. Be sure all employees are at least a little versed in other positions. Try to determine what things are a priority and what can be put on the back burner. What is the bare minimum number of staff members you need to keep the business running for one to three days? How quickly can each position be taught? Answering these questions can help your business get through temporary short staffing.
Don’t let one employee carry a large load of work that no one else knows how to do. If this happens, and that employee leaves or needs a vacation, can things be managed without him or her? Some positions may require a specialist; in this case there should be a backup specialist willing to come in an emergency.
If you find yourself short staffed and underprepared, take a deep breath. It will get stressful, but you can make it through. Again, try to prioritize what needs immediate attention. Who can multitask and toggle positions as needed? Is there anyone who knows the business well enough to come in and help? If customers or clients are becoming impatient, politely tell them the truth and let them know their needs are important.