23 Mar 2022

How Systems and Training Can Help You Cope with Fewer Staff

As we recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic and businesses are reopening their doors, they aren’t finding a shortage of customers, but they are dealing with a shortage of staff. It’s easy to find a “Now Hiring” sign in almost every window, especially at restaurants and small businesses.

But you can’t keep your business on pause while you wait to find a new equilibrium – in many cases, businesses have already been on pause for the better part of the last two years. So what can you do? At the Growth Coach, we’ve found that it comes down to supporting your existing employees, creating systems that allow you to operate with fewer resources and cross-training wherever you can.

Supporting Existing Employees: With so many companies hiring – and paying a lot more than they did two years ago – you have to work harder to support your team members. Obviously paying them a better wage is a great place to start, but for much of today’s workforce, it’s not all about the paycheck. It’s important to find ways to be flexible, especially for employees with children. Do you give back to the community and support causes that resonate with your team? Do you take suggestions and complaints seriously? Are your providing opportunities for growth and professional development? These are all things that can improve your company culture and keep your employees from stepping out.

Creating Systems: Doing more with less has always required systems, but up until recently, that didn’t necessarily mean operating with fewer less staff members. Often systems were to save money, reduce waste or set up layers of staff responsibilities to make sure work was covered accordingly. Now new systems might need to be put into place to help you and your team simply get the job done with fewer people. For example, if you own a restaurant and you only have two servers on the clock, maybe you have to close half of the dining room. Of course that means you can serve fewer people, but it also means you won’t fry your staff members or create expectations of service that you can’t uphold. Maybe a system needs to be put into place that the number of tables you can seat directly correlates to the number of servers rather than expecting whatever servers you have available to cover the entire restaurant. That just one example, but we’re sure there are systems you can create within your own business to help your team run things as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Providing Cross-Training Opportunities: This one can be a little tricky because you have to proactively make time, but cross-training your team members to do multiple jobs – or at least pick up tasks from multiple roles – can make a huge difference, especially when you’re short staffed, someone is on vacation or someone calls out sick. First of all, take a look at your team and, if you have managers, meet with them to talk about which staff members might like to cross-train and which part of your business might benefit the most from having backup. Then encourage your managers to have conversations about providing those kinds of training opportunities and, possibly, small pay increases once training is complete. Cross-training or professional development opportunities have to be mutually beneficial to both your business and your staff if you want everyone on board and a small incentive – whether it’s money, an opportunity to grow within the company or both – can make a big difference.

If you could use help building out systems, creating training programs, improving your company culture or planning for the growth of your company in an uncertain time, your local Growth Coach can help: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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