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Does short-staffing have you coming up short-handed?

By Lauren Smith

Being busy on a regular work day can be very stressful, but on a day when your workplace is short-staffed, you might not even have time to be stressed.

Understaffing can be due to a number of factors – vacations, sickness, unpredictable demand. While employers struggle with various dilemmas that arise from not having enough employees, being short-staffed poses a number of issues for young workers that could lead to preventable accidents:

  • Your workload may increase and you might find yourself rushing or cutting corners
  • Your breaks could be shorter (or cut completely) and longer hours may be required, causing fatigue to set in
  • You could be left without the help and support you would have on a regular work day, leaving you feeling overwhelmed

Not to fear! We have some easy tips to help get you through these tough times:


If you’re faced with a massive list of tasks due to understaffing, it is really important to prioritize. Don’t try to tackle everything and rush through the list of tasks. It’s like Space Invaders: when you start losing the protection of the defense bunkers, you have to focus on first taking out the nearest of the impending aliens. Determine what needs to completed first and focus on that before moving onto another task.


Over-communicate even. Your manager might not realize that you’re having difficulties and can’t work effectively with fewer staff. Let him or her know! Keeping quiet can only lead to fatigue for you and your co-workers, and can have harsh effects on staff morale.

Not only is increased workload detrimental for workers, it can be damaging for employers: being understaffed can interfere with productivity, thereby affecting product quality and customer experience, potentially resulting in loss of profits for the company. If you let your employer know that you’re feeling overwhelmed, your supervisor can possibly limit the work that needs to be done that day, call in support staff to help out in a bind, or even jump in to assist with tasks.


Many companies have a protocol for who staff should check in with if their direct supervisor isn’t at work. Take the time to ask your employer who you should go to for support if your supervisor is unavailable so you can be better prepared for those hectic days.

Lastly, don’t worry that your employer might get mad if you’re struggling when your work place is understaffed – your employer understands and could be struggling, too. When you’re faced with high demand and not enough employees to get the job done, the most important thing to keep in mind is teamwork: support one another and you may be able to tackle more than you realized.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

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