When a company is struggling with staffing, we always suggest starting with the basics. How are their staffing and scheduling policies? Are they documented? Are they readily available and distributed to all staff? Are they consistently applied across all departments? These are questions an organization should be asking if they’re having staffing problems.
Scheduling staff can sometimes feel like a complex issue. However, in reality, it’s often compounded by not having the proper policies and procedures in place. Within organizations, departments might feel like they don’t have the right amount of staff they need but also lack the staffing policies and procedures that make sure employees are working to their commitments.
Lurking within organizations that don’t have consistent staffing policies are chaos and frustrated employees. As it turns out, most people like a little structure and to know what is expected of them. They thrive within environments of accountability.
Organizations should have standardized policies wherever possible. For example, think about workplace flexibility. Does your organization have a formal telecommuting policy? Do you offer a compressed workweek, and if so, do employees know exactly what this means for them and their role? Or do you have work commitments for holidays or non-holiday celebration days (like Halloween)? Is there a team rotation system for these kinds of days? Employees want flexibility, but they won’t be able to make effective use of it unless your policies are clearly defined and communicated.
But it’s not that simple. implementing policy standardization comes with managing through the change. Here are foundational pillars that must be applied when standardizing staffing policies and practices.
Consistently applied and followed expectations. Clearly setting expectations around standard company policies is just the beginning. Once policies and procedures have been defined, leaders must ensure they are consistently applied and followed. That means leaders must also adhere to and enforce standard practices.
Employees expect their leaders to follow through on commitments. If leaders do not set an example by consistently following policy themselves, employees will not feel motivated to adhere to formal policies either.
Buy-in is key. Helping employees understand the “why” behind policy is important to building a culture of accountability and managing through change.Employees who have a clear understanding of why following standardized practices benefits the entire organization can also act as stewards who uphold these formal policies, thereby maintaining the structures that allow for the autonomy workers desire.
Be open and promote accountability. Along with setting and communicating clear expectations and a consistent application of policies, communication is fundamental to a thriving and engaging work environment.
Employees don’t just want autonomy to do their jobs — they also want to understand how their jobs contribute to the organization’s success.
Sharing information about the organization’s achievements, opportunities, and even areas for improvement, helps tether employees to the greater good. When employees understand how their work impacts the company, they feel more motivated to strive for greatness.
Managers and leadership should have multiple pathways to open communication between them and their employees. Not everyone has the same preference for how they like to communicate – whether in-person, by phone or text, or via email – so managers should make themselves available in multiple ways to ensure everyone has an outlet to reach them for questions or concerns.
Communication and accountability are complementary. Keeping employees and leaders accountable fosters a culture of responsibility, which in turn further motivates employee performance. Employees want to feel like their work really matters, and being held accountable shows them exactly that. Additionally, employees also appreciate when their managers hold accountable those team members who may be falling short of the standards expected. A cohesive, thriving team is one in which everyone does their part.