The Most Common Staffing Issues and How to Fix Them

How to fix common staffing issues

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Every business, large or small, confronts periodic staffing issues. Some staffing issues are unavoidable. If you get a huge, unexpected order, you’ll be understaffed for it through no fault of your own. Most staffing issues occur as a result of decisions and small changes in your business over time. Let’s look at the four most common staffing issues and how to fix them.


1. Understaffing

Understaffing inevitably leads to things like extra work beyond the scope of a job description and mandatory overtime. These are the exact things that cause burnout, productivity drop, and make people quit. You should run a periodic review of your overall staffing costs as a percentage of gross revenue. If that number comes in below industry standards, you need extra staff. If it’s seasonal, you need temporary staff. The fix? Look to a staffing agency to help you ease the seasonal workload or find more permanent employees.

Takeaway: Running lean on staff sometimes is okay, but making it standard practice will cost you in the long run.


2. Overstaffing

You look around and see employees killing time, doing makework, or working under capacity. Those are clear signs you’re overstaffed. Before you go on a layoff frenzy, consider your staffing in context. Is it a low ebb point in the year? Will you need those employees in a month just to hit your goals? If you really are overstaffed, the fix is a workforce reduction. The key is clear communication. Explain what changed in the business that drove the layoffs. The employees might not like it, but it won’t arbitrary or malicious. They might even come back if business picks up.

Takeaway: Overstaffed businesses do need to reduce their workforce, but they should do it transparently.


3. Employee Churn

All businesses experience some employee churn. People retire, take other jobs, or move. Your industry matters as well. The average churn in retail and restaurants of around 65 to 73 percent would look apocalyptic in industries where 13% is a norm. Not sure how to calculate it? Here’s a basic formula:


4. Churn = total separations / average number of employees x 100

If your churn rate is high even for your industry and compared with prior years’ numbers, what’s the fix? Start with a hard look at your own business. Did you hire a new manager or change hiring policies? Did a new employer move into the area? Ask for feedback from employees, especially when they quit. They’re your best potential source of information. If you see a pattern, such as pay or a lousy manager, it tells you what needs to change.

Takeaway: Be rational about churn. Evaluate it relative to your industry and historical data.


Dealing with the most common staffing issues isn’t always easy. While understaffing requires hiring more people, it’s a taxing task that often takes months. Overstaffing usually calls for downsizing, which is difficult for everyone. Churn can prove the toughest of all problems to crack because the reasons aren’t always obvious. Once you identify the problem, though, you must act to remedy the problem.


If you’re struggling with understaffing and filling those positions, Joynus offers both temporary and permanent staffing solutions. We can even handle the recruitment process for you.