Is Your Organization Wasting Its Most Valuable Resource?

September 18, 2019 Lynne Jackson

The fragile nature of the world’s resources has taken center stage. Nearly every day we're reminded not to take these precious resources for granted. When disaster strikes, people respond in one of two ways: They rush to alleviate its affects or look for ways to stop it from continuing. 

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, remains the best approach for dealing with many resource issues. However, as we search for ways to address underlying causes, we confront the need to change our culture--- the way we think and act and even daily  habits.  

Demand is also rising for corresponding tools and technology designed to protect our resources. Many businesses are embracing this preventative mindset, as they expand their disaster recovery plans, pursue eco-friendly options, and create alternative work sites. These projects are commendable. But the proactive approach should stretch beyond natural and man-made resources to better care for the organization’s most precious resource.  

Caring for the most valuable resource

Despite their dedicated efforts, many organizations are inadvertently neglecting their most precious resource—their workforce. People comprise the heart and soul of all organizations and in long-term care and senior-care facilities, they play an even more important role—caring for our loved ones.

Therefore, senior care, long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities must continually seek proactive ways to support employees in their everyday life. After all, taking care of others can be very difficult. Every year, 30 to 50 percent of senior care and LTPAC workers abandon their positions and often the industry to pursue external opportunities. Many long-term care facilities face even greater challenges with reported turnover rates that exceed 75 percent a year.

Several factors contribute to high employee turnover in any industry, including LTPAC and senior care. A comprehensive strategy that addresses these factors can help prevent excessive turnover. Read the SmartLinx eBook to learn more about the staffing shortage and strategies being used to combat turnover in long-term and senior care.

However, not all factors are difficult to address. In fact, putting employees in an environment where they’re likely to succeed and enabling them to effectively balance work-life responsibilities can go a long way in boosting employee retention rates. For example, many long-term and senior care employees live on the go, alternating between different shifts and units. They want more control of their schedules and access to tools and information that let them efficiently manage their responsibilities.

Start with every day schedules

Hiring competent and committed employees is a critical first step but can only take you so far. If you don’t create mutually-beneficial schedules, you won’t fully utilize their talents and can hinder their ability to balance personal and work responsibilities.

Schedule optimization — and, now, predictive scheduling — is becoming critical for successful workforce management in LTPAC and senior care facilities. Find out how SmartLinx Schedule Optimizer supports these facilities.

Predictive scheduling proactively defines the appropriate staffing level based on the number of residents, resident acuity, and regulatory demands. You can easily create and modify schedules based on your changing needs and PPD values.

In addition, predictive scheduling enables you to treat all employees fairly.    

Say farewell to ‘favoritism’ with predictive scheduling

A common practice in LTPAC and senior care is relying on known “go-to” staffers when open shifts become available. While it may seem like a reliable immediate fix, in the long run, the practice is inefficient, risky and can lower employee morale. Staff members interested in picking up extra shifts may resent what they view as favoritism toward their colleagues who routinely receive the first option to work an open shift. In addition, you’re likely to incur more overtime costs when you rely on the same faithful employees.

It’s a challenging situation. When employee morale suffers so does their engagement. Disengaged employees are less productive and less likely to provide quality care to residents. Even those who are the “go-to” staffers can suffer from burnout and, in turn, low morale. Remember repeatedly calling on the same staffers to fill open positions can backfire.

How predictive scheduling drives efficiency

Predictive scheduling lets you determine staffing levels in advance, using data insights to drive decisions. This practice is obviously more efficient than adjusting schedules on the fly or, worse, looking back at the previous week and saying, “You know, if we had staffed better maybe we could have avoided some of that overtime or understaffing.”

See how Trilogy Health Services uses predictive scheduling to advance quality care and drive efficiency across its 110 long-term and senior care facilities.

Anyone working in senior care knows that scheduling is both an art and a science. Scheduling can be considered an art because you must be adept at intangible skills, such as:

  • Determining the strengths and weaknesses of your staff.
  • Identifying which staffers work well together (and which don’t).
  • Understanding which staffers perform best at which shifts.

Scheduling is also a science because schedulers in long-term care facilities must staff according to concrete rules, including:

  • Patient (resident) acuity
  • PPD values that change daily
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) regulations
  • Departmental budgets

Facilities must quickly adapt to these changing factors. If the census data confirms, your long-term care facility is not at the optimum staffing level for next week, pay cycle, or month, you’ll want to adjust it beforehand the schedules rather than during the shifts. This proactive approach helps you ensure residents receive the proper care.  

In fact, simplifying regulatory compliance represents another important benefit that predictive scheduling provides. As you know, staffing is a key component of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Five-Star Rating system for nursing homes. Using predictive scheduling can help ensure you are staffing appropriately and protecting both your facility’s rating and its reputation. When it comes time to generate your Payroll-Based Journal reporting, your numbers will reflect your facility’s adherence to staffing guidelines. Watch this webinar to Get 7 Secrets to Payroll-Based Journal Success.

Again, predictive scheduling is more efficient and avoids employees “crashing and burning” from working extra-long shifts, back-to-back shifts or too many hours in a given week. By having all the data available, you can better manage schedules and accommodate PTO and any special requests, which will also result in happier employees and higher quality resident care.

Create the ‘ideal schedule’

With predictive scheduling in place, it is possible to create the ideal schedule. Several critical factors must be considered and in place, including:

  • Knowledge of your census and resident counts
  • Knowledge of when staff are clocking in and out
  • Integrated scheduling and attendance data
  • Knowledge of when employees take PTO
  • Knowledge of when shifts are not filled on time
  • The impact of holiday and weekends on nursing levels  
  • Full visibility of real-time data across departments, facilities, and locations

Keep employees in the loop

Employees who feel they have input into their schedules are likely to be more satisfied employees. In our mobile society, it makes sense to be able to communicate with employees any time, any place. Certain scheduling features can go a long way in improving employee engagement and retention, such as the ability to:

  • View schedules in real-time.
  • Receive automatic alerts when an open shift becomes available.
  • Swap shifts with qualified co-workers.
  • Submit time-off requests anytime, anywhere.
  • Receive approval/rejection notices quickly.

In addition, consider how much easier you can make the scheduler’s when enabling them to use mobile devices to post and fill open shifts. No more scrambling to fill last minute call outs while ensuring everyone gets the same opportunity to take on more hours. Giving employees the ability to see and request open shifts from their mobile devices is a win-win situation. Find out How to Use a Mobile App to Enhance Employee Productivity.

Mobile technology can provide a short-term solution with long-term benefits. Engaged employees tend to be more loyal.

Given the high turnover rate in the long-term care and senior care industries, it’s important to boost employee morale whenever possible. As you know high turnover translates to inconsistent and often reduced quality of care.

Think of scheduling as more than just filling slots. Predictive scheduling is the key to a more efficient, effective and engaged workforce.

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