As layoffs occur, teams become smaller, and with fewer resources, those who remain must do more with less thus, increasing the possibility of a burnout.
As the marketing director for a chain of restaurants in the United Kingdom, James’ task was to devise a long-term strategy, create a consistent digital following, and gradually bring in more consumers. In actuality, though, his work was not what he was recruited to perform. Even the simpler, more normal duties, let alone the job he was employed for, constantly required more employees.
James, whose last name is withheld to preserve his profession, resides in London. He claims his supervisors didn’t care about him, and he frequently worked 16-hour days.
Due to labor shortages caused by Brexit, pandemic lockdowns, and the overall employment crisis in the service industry, his crew was so small that even managers frequently had to wait tables, according to James. These issues also impacted his job: “Customers would have a poor time at the venue because there wasn’t enough personnel,” he adds.
James’ employment quickly got impossible because he required assistance every day. “I can see why firms want to run things with a minimal team to decrease risk, especially since the hospitality industry is in a slump,” he says. “Yet, it is extremely painful for everyone involved.”
Workload contributes to burnout
Even if there is a lot of work, a small team is optional for a larger one.
Some teams are designed to be tiny, and individuals are required to handle a variety of tasks to work with few resources. “In some circumstances, individuals have various talents that help them be effective, productive, and execute their jobs,” says Deniece Maston, an HR expert with Virginia’s Society for Human Resource Management (Shrm).
But, there is a significant difference between a team designed to be small and quick versus one that requires more resources.
When an employee is absent, the workload becomes too great for one person to handle, and another worker’s job must be completed by someone else; this is most likely a sign of understaffing. “Under these conditions, employees may frequently be required to work beyond hours,” explains Maston.
Those still working are on smaller teams as layoffs occur more quickly worldwide. Because the economy is still in flux, many businesses attempt to accomplish more with less by slashing employees and halting recruits. When fewer people are working, those who remain are at risk of a burnout as they must frequently pick up the slack, take on extra work, and perform tasks outside their job description.
All of this comes at a cost. Because of the economy, more workers may find jobs requiring more people. With the volatile market, they may have a little alternative except to labor as hard as possible. The task may still get done in the near term, but not having enough personnel to do the job can generate stress, worry, burnout, and other less-evident difficulties in the long run.
Of fact, under-resourced teams can hurt a company’s output. It does, however, have a human side. Finally, workers must deal with the consequences of insufficient staff, making their already difficult mental burdens even more difficult. This impacts how well people perform at work, which can be detrimental, as well as how they perceive themselves. “Not having enough individuals on a team produces tension and worry, which eventually harms the quality of work and the employees’ health,” explains Maston.
This fact astounded James, who claimed it put him in an impossible situation. “I had a choice: work long hours, which would be exhausting, or select a shorter workday, which would be simpler to manage, but I would have to deal with stress later because I wouldn’t have gotten everything done that day.”
Will this continue?
Several companies’ employees were already being laid off before cross-sector employment cuts were publicized.
For example, workers who stayed on the job were expected to fill in for those who departed during the height of the Great Resignation. However, even though teams worked harder than usual to compensate for the lack of labor, many available positions remained unfilled since recruiters needed help filling them. According to a poll conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce in October 2022 of over 5,100 enterprises, 76% needed assistance acquiring workers, and 56% were operating at less than full capacity due to hiring shortages.
Management may have a different definition of “understaffing” than employees. But, according to Chang, supervisors instinctively prefer proactive employees who strive to do their best.
Most workers will want to stick together for their safety and assist their struggling coworkers. This maintains productivity high in the short term, which pleases bosses and justifies keeping teams small, but it also conceals the larger concerns of a lack of workers. Hence, while a lack of resources can have immediate consequences, the long-term consequences like burnout can be subtle and sneaky.
According to experts, understaffing can only go so long. After then, there is always a tipping point, whether it be the quality of the work or the workers’ health.
Read Also: Burnout: How do we address it?
Despite this, many workers may anticipate being on short-staffed teams for the time being due to the economy and job market. Nevertheless, these issues are more than just the result of corporations laying off employees. Some businesses aren’t cutting off employees, but they still need help filling positions that have been vacant for years. This keeps teams who require additional resources in the same location.