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Showing Hospitality with a Smaller Staff

Hospitality with a Smaller Staff

Though worker shortages continue to impact the healthcare industry as well as others, there are ways to work past employee shortages to provide outstanding customer service.

This issue sprung up again for me recently as I was seen by a registered nurse to review my medical history, but he came in with me completely topless.

Basic communication issues like this feel common these days as we continue to grapple with understaffing, but they don’t have to be. As someone who is frequently in and out of doctors’ offices, I’ve picked up on some areas where my experience as a patient was most affected, good or bad, by the way staffing issues were handled.

Here are some ideas on how to best work with the employees that you have that can be applied in every industry, and why it should be your priority.

Think past new hires

Before getting into how you can streamline your current staff, let’s talk about why going on a hiring spree isn’t as great of a quick fix as it seems. There are several reasons to look beyond hiring new employees as the one-and-only solution to short staffing.

To begin, the costs of acquiring and training a new employee aren’t negligible. The average U.S. company spent $1,071 per employee on training costs in 2021.

And even where the cost may seem necessary, new hires are still few and far between. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics currently reports over 10 million job openings across the country, compared with 7 million openings at this time three years ago, just before the pandemic.

Where hospitality is concerned, focusing on staffing your business with people who believe in their work rather than simply keeping up staff numbers can be crucial. With job openings rampant, you can’t count on finding the perfect hire.

Schedule employees effectively

There are infinitely many ways the schedule can be manipulated to adjust for business and employee needs.

Job roles should be considered carefully. If you have a relative abundance of employees trained in one job role but few in another, don’t do yourself a disservice and spread those few thin by scheduling them for something someone else can do.

Forecasting the amount of staff needed can go a long way, too. Some seasons, days of the week, or times of the day won’t need as much coverage as others. This can be taken a step further by adjusting hours of operation so that employees aren’t being scheduled when they don’t need to be.

Once you’re working with a spot-on forecast, more creative approaches can be taken to tackling the workload. Perhaps consider getting your best team together to tackle a bigger workload in one go so you can leave another day a bit more barebones.

Every business’s needs are unique, but scheduling can be adapted to its benefit in every case.

Optimize the work

With chronic understaffing across the board, there has never been a better time to focus on making the business as efficient as possible.

Take a look at what parts of the work can be automated. What can be done to make life easier? Outside professionals can be brought on to help assess this, and it may be worth the cost.

In the healthcare setting, I’ve seen offices require that patients check in for appointments online and fill out all the forms beforehand. It’s more convenient for me as the patient, and it creates less work for the staff, as it limits the time spent at the front desk and the time it would have taken for an employee to type up the responses.

Small changes like this can make life easier for everyone.

Strengthen the team

Creating a strong team is a powerful way to improve the function of a business as a whole.

Team building activities can enhance the bond between employees and improve morale, making for more efficient workers in the long run.

Ways to help create a stronger sense of companionship include cross training employees in other areas so that they can better assist their coworkers, or scheduling a larger group to knock out a big project more quickly. Both of these examples are also excellent ways to maximize your staff overall.

At another doctor’s office I visited, there were two nurses to take my vitals; they were helping each other figure out how to use the equipment, as they were from a different floor, they explained to me.

While they both completed the tasks with which they were most familiar in order to finish the physical exam as efficiently as they could, they explained that the floor was short on people that week because a few employees were out on vacation, but that they were eager to help out so that their coworkers could have well-deserved time off.

The nurses’ willingness and positive, friendly demeanor made me feel very well cared for during that visit.

The experience was in stark contrast to my most recent appointment, wherein the borrowed nurse instructed that I wait for the R.N. with my shirt off. The R.N. was incredibly apologetic over the misunderstanding and explained similarly that this floor was short-staffed, but that the outside help was leading to miscommunications.

My encounters in these doctors’ offices go to show that the way limited staffing is handled can make a big difference in the client’s experience.