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13 Ways to Stay Productive When Your Business Is Understaffed

The “Great Resignation” has forced many businesses to contend with understaffed teams, demanding customers and discouraged employees. This environment of overwork and reduced morale can naturally have a negative effect on a team’s productivity.

To keep productivity high, even while experiencing a staff shortage, you’ll need to be intentional about your work. To help set you on the right track, 13 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) weighed in on the following question:

“When you’re operating while understaffed, what’s one method you have for maintaining productivity? Why does it work so well?”

Consider these recommendations to improve your team’s productivity and their outlook on work.



1. Offer Incentives and Bonuses

“Giving incentives and bonuses is always a great way to motivate anyone to increase their productivity. Who doesn’t like extra income? This method has worked for all of my businesses throughout the past decade. Adding a competition challenge seems to work wonders as well. Reputation, recognition and rewards all go a long way to further productivity.” ~ Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia

2. Create Priority Plans

“Have your managers create priority plans for employees and help them find resources for working when understaffed. During years of high turnover, my managers have created a system where the employees know which clients and projects take precedence over others. Keep that system simple and clear.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Hold Regular Meetings

“If you’re operating with a skeleton crew, it’s vital that you establish clear communication channels. For instance, you should have a weekly team meeting to go over KPIs and open the floor to questions. I also suggest having one-on-one sessions every two weeks so you can check in with individual team members and keep everyone on the same page.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

4. Optimize Your Time

“Reduce interruptions and work closely with your team on establishing weekly goals and priorities. Tech teams use sprints heavily, which is a great way to iterate weekly and focus on a reasonable volume of work to yield great results with consistent velocity. Assess communication and process areas that consume too much time and optimize as much as possible. High productivity increases satisfaction as well.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

5. Emphasize Positive Reinforcement

“First of all, you need to put greater emphasis on positive reinforcement. Your staff will be exhausted and stressed, so they need to feel like the extra efforts they are making are noticed and appreciated. Make sure to show your team gratitude for the work they’re putting in. You could even take this a step further with rewards or bonuses.” ~ Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

6. Extend Roles to Star Freelancers

“There are times when you have just more than enough work but you can’t add more employees. One way to enjoy efficient operations with your few staffers is by extending some roles to star freelancers. You want a team of personnel who are always ready to jump on a task every time you need them without having to hire them permanently. You will still remain short-staffed but efficient.” ~ Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

7. Offer Your Trust and Support

“Recognize that you have fewer resources. Make sure your team understands the big picture. Then, give them the support and trust they need to prioritize their tasks and tackle those things that are most critical and push those that should be on the back burner.” ~ Eric Zuckerman, Pac Team Group

8. Make Working Fun

“I’ve found the best way to keep everyone productive when scheduling is tight is to make working fun. We have a family channel on Slack, so we can easily chat during our lunch breaks or between tasks, even when we are understaffed for the day. These seemingly small interactions are excellent ways to keep everyone happy and productive, regardless of how many people are missing from the office.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

9. Buy Your Employees Lunch

“Do something special for your employees to show how important they are to you. I love providing lunch for my employees for several reasons. First, free lunch helps boost morale and productivity. Employees who feel valued and love their work environment are more committed and loyal. Second, buying lunch can help recruit new employees! Make it a recruiting point.” ~ Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

10. Prioritize Important Tasks

“Prioritization is key. I keep an ongoing task list prioritized by high priority or near-term tasks that need to be completed and another category for less important tasks that I can keep moving in my schedule if I need to. Get tasks done that are critically important and that need to be done in a timely fashion first and foremost; everything else comes after.” ~ Andy Karuza, Base64.ai

11. Maintain an Upbeat Attitude

“It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and get upset, but that unpleasantness will slow you, your team and your clients down, not to mention bum everyone out. Instead, focus on the positives. Remind yourself of why you do what you do, how you help those you serve and of the impact you make. When you do that, you and your team will be able to work more smoothly with a smile.” ~ Morissa Schwartz, Dr. Rissy’s Writing & Marketing

12. Implement Chatbots

“One way to stay productive is to use chatbots for tasks that need a simple search-and-retrieve from a database. Today, there are many affordable options for chatbots that you can add to your customer support toolkit. Use this so that customers only need to enter a keyword or some other details and the chatbot will bring up the right information. This helps your staff focus on important tasks.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13. Increase Communication Across the Team

“When understaffed, one of the best ways to help maintain productivity levels is by increasing communication across the team about how each member moves the ball forward each day. Often, productivity suffers because team members are simply unaware of how their work output affects everyone else, so keeping this clear is essential when understaffed.” ~ Richard Fong, PageKits.com

Image: Depositphotos


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