“Help Wanted” signs seem to be popping up all over town. From your favorite restaurant to your local hair salon, it feels like every business is hiring—and they probably are. But is that a good thing? These days, issues in staffing seem to be more common than not.
If your business is experiencing staffing troubles, you’re definitely not alone.
The last few years have been tumultuous, to say the least. We can definitely blame the worldwide pandemic for some of the issues in staffing companies are experiencing. But as we take a closer look, there are staffing mistakes that businesses seem to be making across the board that are adding fuel to the fire.
As with most problems, the first step is identifying the root of the issue. We’re breaking down some of the most common issues in staffing and sharing some tips for how to avoid them.
Why are businesses having staffing issues?
Staffing issues are any challenges your business faces related to your employees.
Issues in staffing can include anything from high turnover to dealing with employees who aren’t quite performing at their best. If it’s an issue involving your employees, it’s probably a staffing problem.
But one of the biggest challenges businesses are currently facing? Getting employees in the door.
According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, 50 million people quit their jobs in 2022. It’s the highest number on record, beating the previous record of 47.8 million in 2021. This massive exit has left many companies struggling to meet their employee resource needs.
There are a lot of reasons why businesses can run into employee-related issues. Some are preventable and predictable, like lack of proper training. But there also are many factors beyond our control, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent years, a lot of external factors have contributed to staffing issues, including:
- An aging workforce: As the baby boomer generation approaches retirement, there’s a large percentage of the population exiting the labor market, leaving many open jobs to be filled.
- Record-high inflation: The high costs of living are putting strain on employees to seek out employment with better compensation—particularly among industries with lower wages.
- Labor landscape changes: The pandemic has forced many employees to rethink their priorities, with flexibility and work-life balance topping the list. With many companies unable to offer these benefits, higher job dissatisfaction has caused employees to pivot to different roles or industries.
What businesses are experiencing staffing shortages?
There are labor challenges across the entire country, but it’s clear that staffing shortages are disproportionately impacting certain industries. Particularly those that require employees to work in person and tend to offer relatively lower wages.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the industries and businesses that have experienced the biggest staffing shortages include:
- Food service and hospitality: Employees are turning away from the high-stress environment of the service sector. The food service and hospitality industry held as much as 11% of all job openings in the entire country in 2022.
- Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry lost millions of jobs early in the pandemic, but has struggled to fill those roles as we return to the new normal.
- Wholesale and retail: As another service sector industry with unpredictable hours, the 3.3% quit rates for the retail industry are well above the March 2023 national average of 2.6%.
- Health services: With several years of pandemic-influenced turmoil 1.7 million workers quit their jobs in healthcare in 2022 and 3 in 10 nurses planning to leave the profession in the coming years.
8 common issues in staffing
Realistically, you can’t catch every staffing curveball that comes your way. But you don’t need to make managing your employees more difficult than it needs to be.
Not falling into the trap of common mistakes can go a long way in saving you employee-related headaches along the way. Here are some issues in staffing that you should try to avoid.
1. High levels of employee turnover
If the Great Resignation was any indication, employee turnover has become an increasingly common issue for companies of all sizes.Employee turnover is the rate at which your employees leave your business, whether it’s voluntarily or for other reasons. When employees walk out the door, especially unexpectedly, it can wreak havoc on your staffing plans.
2. Hiring the wrong folks
Sure, there’s no I in team. But each person still plays a vital role in your team’s success.
If you don’t hire the right people, you can find yourself saddled with employees who are the wrong fit for your company culture or even just the wrong fit for the role.
Everyone wants to hire the best candidates. But when you’re struggling to get applicants, it’s easy to just hire the first person willing to show up.
Unfortunately, hiring the wrong person can cost you time and cold hard cash. In fact, the average cost of a bad hire is around $17,000. We promise that a few extra interviews are worth sinking your time and energy into so you don’t end up training and onboarding an ineffective employee.
3. Lack of proper onboarding processes
Onboarding is one of the best ways to set up new employees for success. This means making sure you cover everything including company policies, job expectations, and role-specific training during their first few days and weeks on the job. It also doubles as a way to make your new hire feel welcome and part of the team.
Smaller teams often feel like they don’t need a structured onboarding process. And if your team is already slammed or understaffed, it can be a challenge to dedicate the resources to training a new hire.
Without proper onboarding, it’ll take your new team member longer to get the hang of things and leave them guessing what’s expected of them. And if they guess incorrectly, you’ll have to step in and course correct anyways, which is frustrating for everyone involved.
4. Poor team scheduling and shift management
On one hand, understaffing means you don’t have enough team members to meet your business needs. Whether it’s meeting your production targets or serving customers, when you don’t have enough employees scheduled, it can lead to burnout, lower productivity, and a decrease in the quality of work.
But overstaffing can also create staffing issues. It’s not only a waste of resources, but it can also leave employees feeling undervalued and bored. Nobody likes to feel like they’re just twiddling their thumbs at work—even if they’re getting paid to do it.
|Nursing the healthcare industry back to health: Staffing issues aren’t always business or company-specific. It can easily be an industry-wide problem that leads to staff shortages across the board. A notable example is the staffing issues in the healthcare industry. Over 100,000 registered nurses left the industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lack of adequate coverage caused an increase in workload, stress, and burnout. Without a plan in place, the healthcare industry is likely to face even bigger staffing concerns in the coming years.
5. Not accounting for time off in resource planning
Whether they’re calling in sick, taking a vacation day, or just have personal matters to deal with, your employees are inevitably going to need time off. Your regular shift schedule may not apply at all times of the year.
When planning schedules and making hiring decisions, it’s important to factor in time off requests. If you’re waiting to grow your team until a bunch of time-off requests pop up, you’re putting yourself at risk of a major staffing shortage. This can leave you scrambling at the last minute and ultimately impacts your team’s working experience.
Even having seasonal or part-time workers on payroll can help you better accommodate.
6. Payroll and compensation issues
Employees show up each day to make a living and support themselves and their families. So if you’re not compensating your employees properly, or worse, not compensating them on time, you’re bound to have staffing issues.
It’s common for entry-level roles to be paid minimum wage, but competitive pay and benefits can make a huge difference in attracting and retaining talent.
|No wages no service: Restaurant workers have been leaving the industry in droves, leaving the food service industry with a massive staffing shortage and high employee turnover. The number one culprit? Low wages and benefits.
Departing employees primarily cite that the wages don’t offset the stressful environment. It’s clear that compensation is playing a major role in the shortages in the restaurant industry.
7. Not prioritizing employee training and development
We’ve talked about onboarding. But employee training doesn’t stop there.
Throughout their time with your company, it’s important to provide your employees with opportunities to learn and grow on the job. Even in environments where promotions aren’t possible, you can still contribute to employee development.
Otherwise, employees can feel stuck in their roles. Over time they’ll become bored and uninterested in their work. As a result, they’ll be less productive and effective, and will ultimately decide to leave.
8. Ignoring underperformance
They say ignorance is bliss. And in some cases, this might be true. But when it comes to your team’s performance, turning a blind eye is only going to end poorly for you and your employees.
Whether it’s a skills mismatch or true underperformance, it’s important to address issues as soon as you start noticing them. Instead of leaving an underperforming team member just coast on payroll, you should be providing feedback and opportunities to help them turn the ship around.
If an employee isn’t doing their job, it leaves other employees to pick up the slack.
Unfortunately, in some instances of severe and consistent underperformance, severing ties might be best for all parties involved.
How do you solve staffing problems?
In a volatile labor market, staffing problems are a dime a dozen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures to reduce employee turnover and help minimize the impact on your business.
So if one of the common problems above sounds familiar to you, here are five ways you can put your staffing issues in your rearview mirror.
1. Build a positive company culture
Company culture is a broad term, but it can play a huge role when it comes to addressing a large number of staffing problems companies face.
Some ways you can improve your company culture include:
- Improving the diversity and inclusion practices within your business
- Offering better work-life balance through flexible scheduling and other employee benefits
- Building a foundation of learning and growth
- Creating a culture of communication and transparency
Not sure what’s going to make the biggest impact? Use an employee survey to collect feedback and get a better sense of your employee engagement.
2. Help your team thrive through training and development
It’s your responsibility to set your team up for success from day one. Your team can only perform if you provide them with the tools they need.
As a small business, offering employee development opportunities can feel expensive and complicated. But they really don’t have to be.
Employee training can be as straightforward as providing your employees with safety training and basic role guidance. However, to reap the most benefits, go beyond the basics by offering opportunities that help build upon existing skills and knowledge. These could be as simple as assigning new tasks and project roles or as robust as offering access to external courses.
Having a solid employee training plan shows that you care about their development and that you’re invested in their experience. Not only will you benefit from their newfound skills, but they’ll be happier and more satisfied in their roles.
3. Hire right the first time around
Building out a successful team starts with hiring the right people. That means giving your hiring process the love and care it deserves. Here are some things to consider in your hiring process:
- Take the time to write an effective job description that accurately describes the role
- Use screener questions to easily filter through the right candidates
- Make your job posting stand out from the rest by highlighting benefits and company culture
- Post to relevant job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Google, Trovit, and GlassDoor to reach more candidates
- Take the hassle out of hiring with a hiring software to easily schedule interviews and move through the process quickly
4. Make onboarding a priority
Once you have your perfect candidate, make sure to provide a thorough onboarding experience.
Homebase makes onboarding easier than ever by helping you send a welcome packet before their first day. We’ll collect all tax documents and employee information electronically and store them for you. You can even send over onboarding materials, like policies, employee handbooks, and training documentation in just a few clicks.
5. Invest in better shift management and resource planning
Many smaller businesses opt for reactive hiring and scheduling. This means you’re bringing on new team members when current demand outpaces your resources. Unfortunately, this can leave you in a tough spot scrambling to find new hires—which can be particularly difficult in today’s tight labor market.
Instead, try resource planning. This means looking at your current and future business needs to determine the number of employees you’ll need. Looking at future sales and projected growth, you can get ahead of the game by proactively knowing when you need to scale your team up—or down.
For an easy solution, use Homebase’s automated employee scheduling tool. Easily create schedules using templates and automations based on your sales and labor forecasts. We’ll help you keep track of employee availability and identify gaps in coverage.
The best part? You can integrate your POS sales data right into Homebase.
Struggling with staffing?
Get Homebase for easy hiring, HR, and compliance help. Plus, get scheduling, time clocks, payroll, messaging, and more—all in one app. Get started for free.
Issues in staffing FAQS
What are some staffing mistakes?
Some common staffing mistakes include poor hiring and onboarding, inefficient scheduling, and not providing adequate growth opportunities for employees. These issues can create problems for companies, including high employee turnover rates, staff shortages, and poor productivity.
While some staffing issues are unavoidable due to external factors, it’s possible to address most staffing mistakes that companies tend to make.
Why are there staffing issues in healthcare?
Staffing issues in healthcare can primarily be attributed to understaffing, employee burnout, poor scheduling, and lack of proper compensation. These issues have been highlighted over the last few years, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting an extra strain on the healthcare system.
With over 1.7 million workers leaving healthcare professions in 2022 alone, the healthcare industry is on the brink of a critical labor shortage.
What are staff shortages?
Staff shortages happen when an organization doesn’t have enough employees to meet its business needs. This can occur when businesses have high rates of turnover, struggle to hire new employees, or are facing unexpected demand.
When a business experiences staffing shortages, the excess of workload can put stress on existing employees, causing burnout and reducing employee morale. This often results in a decrease in productivity and quality of work, both of which can cause employees to leave their jobs—further perpetuating the staffing issues.
Over the past few years, staff shortages have been extremely common in industries like food service, retail, and healthcare. But by focusing on company culture, the hiring process, and developing an employee resourcing strategy, companies can reduce the likelihood of experiencing staff shortages.
How do you solve staffing issues?
Some ways you can solve staffing issues include:
- Improving your hiring and onboarding processes
- Building a positive company culture
- Reducing employee turnover
- Investing in employee training and development
- Creating a resourcing strategy to determine your staffing needs
These tactics work together to help reduce the likelihood that your business will be impacted by issues in staffing. They’ll help you keep your existing employees longer and help you scale your team as you grow.