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Reducing overtime pay and understaffed shifts: A closer look at how to better manage your team

Working overtime hurts employee morale. It causes staff burnout and hinders the patient experience, which can also occur when you have understaffed shifts. There’s often a correlation between these two scheduling issues, leaving many healthcare leaders wondering what they can do to increase their workforce management efficiency.

The answer is simple: stop the cycle of overtime and burnout!

Not sure how to do that?

Here are a few tips on how to simplify this complex process for the benefit of all. But first, a closer look at the cost of scheduling inefficiencies.

The real cost of scheduling overtime

Scheduling issues like working overtime, paying for overtime and struggling to keep up with the workload of understaffed shifts only lead to more serious problems. These may include:

  • Low levels of employee engagement
  • Low patient satisfaction scores
  • High rates of employee turnover
  • Patient safety concerns
  • Inefficient allocation of company finances
  • Confusion and miscommunication across teams and departments
  • Mistakes in patient medication and treatment
  • Additional mistakes in other workflows

There are also more specific costs to consider.

For example, if your best nurses are overworked, the training of new nurses can suffer. If your facility is frequently understaffed, performance ratings will reflect that, making it much harder to recruit new patients and/or team members.

Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid these problems.

How to improve workforce management efficiency

To transform your scheduling workflow, you need to automate the process, establish specific scheduling rules and communicate better.

1. Automate your scheduling process

If you’re not already using an automated tool to schedule shifts, invest in one right away. An application like SMARTFORCE® Scheduler can completely change how you identify the needs of each shift and track staff hours.

It can ensure you don’t miscalculate hours or overlook a shift that needs to be filled. It will also help you monitor performance indicators like on-time attendance, sick calls and no-shows. Together, these capabilities can give you a full understanding of how well your scheduling efforts are performing.

2. Establish job-specific rules across your organization

In addition to the automated staffing functions mentioned above, you should also take advantage of setting job-specific rules if this is available. This function will help you differentiate between salary and hourly employees. It can give you a more accurate picture of how each shift adds up on payroll, while further preventing schedule mistakes from occurring.

You might even use this as a resource when identifying hiring needs. The historical data of certain roles/departments can shed light on where extra talent may be beneficial.

3. Communicate expectations and set staffing alerts to avoid understaffed shifts

When implementing any kind of scheduling change, you need to make sure your staff is on board. The best way to do this is by communicating clearly. Tell them that you’ve heard their concerns and share your plan for improving scheduling efficiency.

Your plan should include clear expectations for how the whole team will move forward. You might choose to address specific problems like call-outs and no-shows with a more rigid disciplinary protocol. Or, you could create a new process for trading shifts and updating availability.

To track how well these rules are adhered to, set staffing alerts. These will tell you when a shift becomes understaffed as individuals drop them or don’t show up.

Having a satisfied, motivated team is critical when running a high-performing organization. And since healthcare employees typically operate at an above average risk of burnout, the pressure is high for employers to master staffing efficiency and employee engagement.

Don’t put this off any longer. Improve your scheduling process today to enhance staff performance and satisfaction. Ask our team how we can help.

Inovalon® and design, Inovalon® are trademarks of Inovalon, Inc.

About the author

Michelle Karl, Solution Architect