Employers are undoubtedly facing challenges right now, many of which mean they don’t have the employees they need or had before the pandemic.
One problem is that despite the high unemployment rate following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people aren’t returning to work. There are millions of open jobs, and employers are trying everything they can think of to incentivize new hires.
This is paired with the fact that we’re in a period of uncertainty. With the rollout of vaccines, most people thought the COVID-19 situation would soon be behind us, but the delta variant is changing that reality. Employers might not be able to bring everyone back into the office right now.
With that in mind, it’s a good time to think about how you can stay productive and competitive but do so with fewer employees. This is an excellent time to consider these goals not only because of the pandemic but also because even before that employers were having a tough time attracting skilled talent.
The following are some tips to help you along the way.
Automate Wherever Possible
Do an audit in your workplace to make sure you’re automating anything you can. Most employers still think about automation as robots on the manufacturing floor, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Technology and software create many affordable opportunities for automation, like AP automation.
Look for the places where your current employees or maybe even you are doing more manual or repetitive work than needs to be done. Chances are, you’ll find a lot of ways you could automate tasks.
Then, not only can you get more done with fewer employees, but you’ll also have fewer mistakes due to human error to deal with. Your employees are likely to be more satisfied when they can focus on value-creating tasks as well.
When you identify opportunities for automation, you’re going to have a leaner, more agile and more efficient workplace. These are things that are going to serve you well into the future.
Be Clear in Your Expectations
If you’re short-staffed, the last thing you want to do is have the employees who are onsite scrambling to figure out what’s expected of them.
How you lead your employees is going to set the tone for their level of productivity.
Tell your employees in no uncertain terms what your idea of success in day-to-day tasks and larger projects looks like.
You want to share your vision of success with your team, particularly if you’re working with fewer employers than you’re used to and you’re heavily dependent on the ones you do have.
As part of setting and managing expectations, you also want to provide good feedback. Tell your employees what they do well and where they can improve constructively.
You’ll find that while you might be short-staffed, you end up with a stronger team overall.
Give Your Employees Time To Focus
Productivity is going to rely on your employees being able to focus on the task at hand. Don’t expect to consume your employees’ time with unnecessary meetings and conversations and then still have them be as productive as they can be.
You want to make yourself accessible if necessary, but you also want to stay out of your employees’ way when they need that time.
Ask Employees What They Need
The big mistake employers make, even when they’re working with a full staff, is not getting enough feedback from the people who work for them. You should check in with your employees and ask them what they want and need to do their job well.
Maybe it’s a new type of technology or software, or it could just be that a different approach to a particular workflow would be helpful to them.
When you’re working with a small team, you don’t have the luxury of micromanaging them at all. You should outline your expectations and the goals you have for everyone, and then let your employees achieve those goals in whatever way they think is best. It doesn’t matter how they get to an endpoint, as long as they get there successfully.
Finally, cross-train your employees. The more versatile they are in their roles, the more adaptable you’ll be.
You’ll find that in the face of challenges employees are dealing with right now, you have some real opportunities to emerge stronger and better, regardless of what might happen in the future.