Empty Beds[edit | edit source]
It's important to differentiate being understaffed with regards to Skill Pools (in which having less than 100% Skill Pool is very bad ), versus being understaffed as in having empty beds on board.
If you are flying a non-crew-combat focused ship, as long as you have fulfilled your Ship's Skill Pool requirements, it is reasonable to have leftover empty beds. If you include combat crew (fighters) on board, you likely won't have any spare beds.
When you have fewer overall crew, the Experience allocated for your character's activities is less spread around and allows individuals to level faster, as well as keeping maintenance cost for the doctor, Spice Hall, and crew payments lower. This tactical decision can be a big help in the early game. If you are consistently having fewer crew than your Barracks can support, you also have the option of downgrading to a smaller Barracks, freeing up some Mass that you can use for other ship upgrades.
Another option is to focus on filling every bed and pushing your Ship Skill Pools near the 200% level. Also, keep in mind all the additional choices for other important hires (e.g. Doctor, Commander, Pirate, Diplomat, etc) available through Contact Services. As with everything you do as a Star Trader Captain, there are tradeoffs to every choice.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind, especially on higher difficulties, is that having "spare" crew on board will help buffer against death or desertion. As an example, if your Pilot Skill Pool was just above 100%, a single death among your Pilots could plunge you into an Understaffed situation. If you have spare Pilot or Pirate characters on board to boost your Skill Pool level higher, you still won't be understaffed should death or desertion strike.