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Challenges of Finding and Keeping Talent By Zándra Bishop

Talent Will Take You from Surviving to Serving

Many mid-sized and smaller organizations are understaffed which causes them to lose good talent, decreased productivity, and lowers their ability to scale upward for mission growth. Most are not serving or advancing because of this cycle. Big businesses are suffering from this as well post-pandemic. Difficult times and challenges like understaffing can quickly change the mindset in an organization from serving to surviving.

Factors that Drive Staffing

In a couple of my leadership roles, I’ve found myself pulled between expectations and priorities from superiors, without enough staff to perform adequately. Many factors contributed to why the team was understaffed, including recent departures that remained unfilled, reorganization, and the demand for work growth before the team size could catch up.

Making Adjustments

Being understaffed complicates many situations, no matter the reason. It should be effectively managed as it could create an environment of burnout, and ultimately, resentment toward the leadership and organization. Additional stress is added when the team is tasked with endless projects that become overwhelming. The team needs to be expanded or work projects should be reassessed. At all costs, leaders and organizations should avoid operating with minimal staffing. It is not beneficial to anyone and certainly does not further the organization’s mission.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Sustainable Solutions

Common solutions to staffing shortages include redistribution of work, hiring replacement staff, and outsourcing lower-level tasks.

Here are some additional sustainable strategies for managing understaffing:

  1. Outline everyone’s focus and how to execute successfully by clearly defining and cross-training standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  2. Identify, clarify, and prioritize the most important projects. Then align them with team members’ strength(s)
  3. Consistently review long-term goals
  4. Rethink, re-prioritize, and reorganize calendars
  5. Execute critical mission objectives first
  6. Prioritize core clients’ needs with explanation
  7. Schedule regular workforce planning meetings for updates and progress

Engage Staff

There is much to be gained through disclosure, honesty, and proactive communication. Talk openly with your team about the staffing situation, strategies, and projected timelines for remediation. Discuss employees’ needs and potential barriers. Honest and transparent communication will open the door for interactive behavior which benefits all parties involved.

While remediation strategies are put in motion, identify inefficiencies and better ways of working that can be easily corrected or mastered to improve workflow and daily work habits. Investing in the improvement process may be more expensive, however, in the long run, continuous improvement is usually worth the cost.

Encourage Balance

A balanced lifestyle is just as important for employees and the company. Employers should set an example for employees by expressing the value of rest and revitalizing themselves for better performance. Again, everyone benefits when employees are energized and focused.

Express your affirmation and confidence in the team. Showing your team that you believe in them and have confidence that they will succeed builds their confidence and resourcefulness. Team empowerment through leadership stimulation and verbal acknowledgment, brings about a stronger workforce, even in less-than-optimal conditions.


Zándra Bishop serves as the SVP NonProfit+, a division of FaithSearch Partners. FaithSearch consultants bring more than 130 years of cumulative experience in faith-based executive search. They will help you find talent and build champions! FaithSearch excels in securing leaders for nonprofit, higher education, and healthcare organizations. Contact the FaithSearch team today for more information.

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Listen in and you will learn more about how to create a Flourishing Culture. Simply access the podcast from this CLA Higher Thinking Blog. It’s located in the right column!

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