Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Working Smarter: Understaffed? Check Your Work flow and Reorganize

Recently we've read about banks, insurance firms, retail giants and others shedding staff because of the so-called financial slump. Other items I read indicate that the demand for employees has never been higher. It's a bit confusing.

What I do know, from personal experience, is that when an organisation gives numbers of its staff the flick, they usually try to offload employees seen as sub-standard at their work or incompatible with the firm's culture or other staff. Whoever they offload, those who are left usually have to pick up an increased workload.

Many professionals in under-staffed Australian hospitals have left nursing for other employment or moved to hospitals where the work isn't so demanding. Some have just burn out and dropped out of the workforce. The same can be said of the teaching profession.

When you are left holding the baby after staffing cutbacks, one of the first things you should do is examine the way you are doing your work (work flow). Find out if you can identify and eliminate duplicated activities. Can you dispense with some of the activities? Can activities be streamlined eg, can manual filing be superseded by electronic scanning of documents? What jobs are being done that don't need doing?

A good way to begin the process is to work with each piece of paper eg, when a purchase order is raised ... where does it go and who does what with it? When a piece of correspondence arrive, what happens to it? If you do some tracing of paperwork like this, step by step, you are bound to find something that needs changing or eliminating.

If you check your work flow and reorganize, it can help you withstand the onslaught of additional work. Even if you aren't facing cut-backs, it's healthy every several years or so to review processes and procedures to see if they are still serving the best needs of your organization.

Have you had experience with cutbacks? Been reorganized or given more work because of cutbacks? Let us know.


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  1. Daniella10:16 AM

    Thanks for this post Robyn. I've been retrenched twice and knew that my team members left behind would be finding the going tough.

    It's better to jump ship with the others and find a job where one is appreciated.

  2. Thanks for the post Daniella. I understand where you are coming from.


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