Being short-staffed is a trying time for companies. It could be because the growth rate is too fast to match the hiring rate or because many employees are leaving for one reason or another. Another common reason is due to a lack of planning from the management team regarding job specifications, shift assignments, etc. This usually means someone in the office is suffering from a heavy workload.

Unbalanced workloads mean a lot of problems within the company. These include unhappy employees, incomplete work, rushed and unprofessional projects, a highly stressful and toxic environment, potential strikes and the loss of even more employees. Overworked employees are never happy employees, and pretty soon, your company will take some hard losses. To fix this, you should practice good workload management.

What is workload management?

Workload management is the process of effectively distributing work across your team and managing the tasks correctly. Successful workload management maximizes the productivity and performance of employees and minimizes burnout and office stress. It also increases the overall satisfaction in the office from the management, employees and customers. Workload management ensures everyone feels confident about their job and can successfully handle their work volume. This ensures that high-quality work is delivered at a faster pace and within the right time frame.

A simple guide to workload management

Here are a few steps to go through to balance the workload among your employees effectively:

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1. Assess your current workload

As an employer, your job is to delegate and manage the various projects in the company. This means you have a working knowledge of the duties involved in each project and each position. Take time to go over the tasks required to fulfill the responsibilities of each position.

Remember to also do your due diligence on any current and upcoming projects and assess what each step involves and what role it falls under. This gives you a clear view of the workload your current staff is trying to balance and where the chaos is erupting from.

2. Determine your team's working capacity

Not everyone in the office can do everything. That is why people study, train for, and work in different roles. And with time and experience, people work in the same roles differently as they develop their styles and working hours.

Have discussions and conduct assessments with each team member to figure out what they can comfortably do, what they are currently handling, and what roles are spilling into others. This will provide you with a clear picture of which departments are understaffed and what roles need to be created or filled to balance the workload.

3. Prioritize work based on importance and urgency

Even when you're understaffed, work needs to be completed. Compile a list of the projects that need completion. Arrange these projects in order from most urgent to least urgent.

The most urgent and most important projects will need to be worked on to keep clients. Assign these projects immediately to the relevant roles. This will ensure that the company has money for new hires to balance the workload.

4. Review the company budget

New hires need to be paid and hard-working employees shouldn't have to take a pay cut to do so. Consider reworking the company budget to allow for new employees and fair wages to distribute the workload. Create new roles if you are able. This also means some employees will get promotions with better-defined job roles and higher pay.

5. Balance project allocation and due dates

While you're short-staffed, project due dates may have to be pushed to allow each employee time to work on their assignments. Schedule tasks using time management methods that allow for a less stressful work atmosphere and encourage productive work.

6. Have open discussions

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Don't leave your employees in the dark during the review of the work balancing process. Let them know of any shifts in the job description and ask for their opinions before assigning a task to them. Open the floor to suggestions and listen to their grievances and ideas. Allow them to clarify how much work they can handle. Check-in with your team and readjust as needed.

Final thoughts

Workload management is a critical part of managing teams, especially when short-staffed. Make it a part of your regular management duties to ensure your employees are not overworked. It will keep everyone happy and productive.