If you’re understaffed, you’re going to run into three main problems: your customers, your employees, and you will all be dissatisfied, upset, and unhappy. Being understaffed means there aren’t enough workers to provide for the customer in the way he or she needs. These duties then overload you and your current employees to make up for the lack of staff. You’re trying to keep up with the customer… but with too few hands.
Suddenly you, as the manager, will be too busy making up for lost shifts rather than getting to the root of the understaffing problem. Then you’re stuck in a cycle of unmanned hours and growingly unhappy employees, who feel overworked and underappreciated. This in turn spills over to a negative customer experience, which costs you money, client loyalty, and brand reputation.
Even being understaffed by one person can create this negative cycle of low morale, low customer service, and low profits.
So is the solution to hire more people?
Yes and no. You may have all the people you already need, but you’re not offering them the right hours. Or maybe you need to hire more individuals, but you’re struggling to find candidates who will fill the hours you need filled. If you’re understaffed, it’s likely not for lack of potential workers. It’s a lack of flexibility for those workers.
Flexibility is the key.
1. Flexibility builds an available talent pool.
Say you need individuals to work 9am to 9pm. If you split this up 9-3 and 3-9, you offer a large chunk of time for two individuals to work. They need to be able to work those full shifts, and only two people will work that day.
What if you instead allow for flexibility? You don’t set specific hours that an individual needs to be at work. Instead, your talent pool can pick up shifts and hours as it works for their schedule. This means one person could work 9-11, another 11-6, and another 5-9. It’s possible that those three individuals wouldn’t have been able to work the full 9-3 or 3-9 because of other life circumstances…but now they can come to work and fill those hours thanks to a flexible schedule.
Creating a set schedule limits your potential talent pool. Hours become the first and foremost barrier to entry. You may have great candidates that can only work half of the shift you need filled. If you don’t allow for flexibility, you’ve lost those individuals before you’ve even interviewed them.
In today’s world, employees don’t work 9-5, go home for dinner, and return back the next morning. They work and go to school, work several jobs, and balance life and work. Maybe they’re retired and want to work for a few hours in the morning. Maybe they’re teens who want to work after school. There are millions of candidates who have other responsibilities and might not be able to work a full “shift.” Offering a flexible work schedule lets you tap into these broader talent pools.
The more flexible the schedule, the more people will have free hours to work for you. You can create a larger talent pool of individuals to pick up hours “here and there.” With a system like Forge, available employees can easily compare the open work times to their other schedules, allowing them to pick up hours in a snap.
2. Flexibility builds a strong talent pool.
Not only do you have a larger group of people able to work for you, you can get the right candidates on board. Gone are the days of hiring someone just because they fit the shift hours. Instead, you can hire a plethora of amazing candidates—even if they can only come to work a few hours each week. Those few hours of ultra productivity from each outstanding worker can drastically improve your service and brand representation.
3. Flexibility promotes work-life balance.
When you opt for a flexible schedule, you’re not only opening up the availability to more and better workers; you’re also hiring people during the times when they work best. For example, a night owl won’t be productive in the mornings—even if you’ve scheduled them to start work at 8am. If you offer flexibility, though, that night owl will likely choose to work in the evenings when they work best. That means that the hours you’re paying them, they’re being more effective and productive—and you’re getting the best return on investment.
This also means that they are able to meet the other needs in their life before coming to work. This creates the ultimate work-life balance that employees crave in today’s society. It also allows employees to take control of their own schedule—and their own productivity. Thus, when they choose a shift they want to work, they’re more likely to be fully present and working at their best, again meaning they’ll be more effective and beneficial.
In addition, flexibility can help decrease your employees’ other costs of living. If they can choose the hours they are available to work, they may be able to cut down costs on childcare or pick up a second job. This makes them more secure, which in turn reflects well on your company’s productivity and image.
4. Flexibility increases the health and happiness of workers.
When employees have a strong work-life balance and a command over their schedule, they’re happier and healthier. Countless studies, like the Cochrane 2010 study, have proven that flexibility and self-scheduling improves health metrics, such as better sleep, lowered stress, lowered blood pressure, better mental health, better confidence, and higher energy. Healthy employees are engaged employees.
This health and happiness directly lends itself to increased morale and commitment, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and reduced turnover. Together, this means you have a full, hearty schedule filled with great workers.
5. Flexibility betters your recruitment process.
Aside from building a strong and broad talent pool (see numbers 1 and 2), flexibility can better your recruitment and hiring based on word-of-mouth. When your employees feel appreciated and morale is high, they’re going to tell their friends (who likely also want a flexible schedule). This helps bring more people into your talent pool with little additional effort on your part.
Basically, if you offer flexible scheduling to your employees, they’ll be happier. When they’re happier, they spread the word about your company. This gets you more people sitting in your talent pool. More people in the talent pool means you’re more likely to fill up your needed hours and shifts. Now you’re never understaffed! This gives you a positive cycle of productivity…as opposed to the negative cycle that can occur with understaffed, overworked employees.
Using Forge for flexible scheduling can also help you simplify this hiring process so finding and retaining talent is easy and unobtrusive. Forge helps you fill each shift by opening up the doors to flexible workers who want a work-life balance.
6. Flexibility improves customer service and profits.
So, flexibility fills your shifts and gives you happy, productive, engaged employees. Together, this creates a pool of talent that is always there to provide grade-A service to your customers. Having the staff available—and having great staff available—means customer service and profits can grow exponentially.
If you’re struggling to fill up your shifts, Forge is here to help. You can easily recruit and retain a large pool of Team Members to ensure every shift is filled with talented, committed, local workers. Get started with Forge today to move out of the understaffed cycle into a productive, engaged cycle that will enliven your employees, your customers, and you!