The issues with understaffing

A recent Gallop poll found that 40% of American workers believe they are short-staffed or under-staffed. Under-staffed means that the business does not have enough workers to operate smoothly, while short-staffed means that the business has fewer than normal workers for a shift.

The problems with understaffing

Good owners should strive to run a lean ship, which can help with profit margins and liquidity. But, pushing this to unsustainable levels can put the business’s employees at risk:

No end in sight: Under-staffing takes its toll on employees and contributes significantly to on-the-job stress. Symptoms include the feeling that they have no control over their rapidly increasing workload. While difficult challenges or a big push may bring out the best in staff, hectic environments with little hope for improvement lead to poor performance and lower productivity. It can also lead to workplace injuries.

It causes injuries: Overworked staff members are more likely to hurt themselves, whether it’s trying to do too much too quickly, cutting corners to make it work or mental or physical fatigue. Of course, this leads to the added cost of workers’ compensation claims and the fact that the business has one less body to do the work while the injured recover.

No one to blame but themselves

Companies, particularly small businesses, are often run by dedicated owners and senior staff. These decision-makers may see chronic stress as a way of life and the road to higher profits. They may even disregard complaints of others feeling burnt out.

Perhaps they survived this grueling slog to get where they are, but hard workers do not always make innovative business leaders. They need to ensure that employees can safely serve the customers and meet production goals.

A business that routinely dismisses common labor practices, has higher instances of injury, or doesn’t provide a safe work environment could leave itself open to whistleblower claims and legal action. It can involve a lawsuit or fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Agency. Those with questions about their work environment can speak with the attorneys at Alan C. Olson & Associates, who handle employment law issues in Wisconsin.


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