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Strategies for managing an understaffed team

Jun 01, 2022

By Naseerah Nanabhai
01:06:2022

The ongoing pandemic’s severe impact on job losses has left many organisations with less than the usual level of employees. Managers are left with immensely understaffed teams, and remaining employees are often burdened with increased workloads. Workload redistribution is an untenable long-term solution, but it appears to be the go-to for understaffed organisations. Here are three strategies that managers should consider when dealing with understaffed teams:

Design project calendars with efficiency in mind – Employees who are high performers on particular tasks are assigned those tasks to ensure the greatest efficiency is achieved (since it does not require time costing deep thinking). Additionally, managers can defer projects to make the most of available time. They can also prioritise what can’t be delayed by strategising and scheduling more carefully — preferably sequentially.

Prioritise Core Client Needs – In many cases prioritising clients involves firing clients, but there are less-drastic measures. For instance, re-evaluating client needs and making decisions that will help reduce workloads based on this. Ideally, a mid-range solution will effectively minimise employee workload while maintaining your client base. But if not, you may need to prioritise your core clients over having an extensive portfolio of clients.

Find Quick Interventions – Look for interventions that can substantively improve employees’ daily work and be mastered in less than a week. Bring in external consultants or human resources to manage much of the design and rollout of the interventions to avoid further overwhelming an already overstretched workforce. Although investing in process improvement may be expensive, it’s likely much cheaper than recruiting, training, and managing a revolving door of employees who are all frustrated by broken processes.

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