Updated: Feb 28
Striking the right balance between having too many and too few employees working at any given time can be difficult. Particularly in workplaces where business tends to come in waves of extreme activity and then lull back such as retail and food service, it’s difficult to schedule a number of eight hour shifts to maximum efficiency. However a common mistake that can prove very expensive is going the opposite way and spreading your employees too thinly, and as managers will discover this can have just as negative consequences for both the staff and the business itself.
Tips For Ensuring Employees Are Not Overworked:
Identify the busiest periods of each day and plan your schedules to cover these, not the down time. It can be tempting to skimp on employee numbers when you know that a ten hour working day will have five hours of downtime, but you should look at it the opposite way – for at least five hours employees may be swept off their feet. The safest time to have smaller employee numbers is usually the first and last hour of a work day, but depending on the business these can also have their stresses and pressures. Schedule according to how busy you expect the busiest periods to be, and have a manager working who can allow employees to go home early if they wish and it’s clear the extra numbers aren’t necessary.
Have a good distribution of skills/expertise. It’s one thing to have plenty of employees on hand, but if only one or two of them can perform a critical task, it’s still going to place a lot of pressure on those workers. Ensure that for each shift there are multiple people who can perform each necessary task to ensure there aren’t just a couple of overworked staff bearing the bulk of the work.
Discuss weekly hour limits with employees. Some employees are in a situation where they need to work as many hours as possible, and though you should be mindful of their stress and exhaustion levels it can be just as stressful to limit their hours. Others however are only looking for a standard working week, so it’s best to talk to employees individually to ascertain what their needs and preferences are to ensure they aren’t overexerted at work.
A good rostering system is the best way to ensure you have a good distribution of employees at any time, keeping up morale and efficiency.