By Jana Reserva
Feb. 6, 2021
Health care organizations faced numerous challenges when the pandemic hit. Residents in care facilities faced a high risk of contracting the coronavirus as many are between the vulnerable ages of 80 and 90 years old with underlying conditions.
Beyond the physical stress, residents and staff alike experience mental health challenges. Employees are burdened with adapting to new ways of working, such as dealing with absences, implementing new health protocols, and the emotional toll of seeing patients affected by the virus. At the same time, residents can also pick up such cues and feel the burden themselves — restrictions such as limited visits from loved ones added to the toll too.
“Care organizations in particular have been under immense strain. We’ve never asked them to do more to protect the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Bryce Davies, general manager of Workforce.com UK. But there’s another story here, and that’s human ingenuity and creativity can be used to help us all adapt. It’s called resilience.”
The ability of organizations to bounce back from challenges and show resilience is what can help them thrive during a pandemic. Davies identified four core areas of resilience that can help businesses navigate through this time.
Communication is key for both staff and patients or customers. But with the pandemic, keeping communication lines open tends to become challenging given restrictions and volatile work patterns. This resulted in information getting diluted and not being communicated to the right person at the right time, which prevents teams from adapting quickly to circumstances.
“Identify your mission-critical communication channels and build redundancy into these,” Davies said. The speed of communication channels should also be considered and identify possible causes of delays.
Open and transparent communication lines are vital to empowering staff to step in and take over in case of a teammate’s absence or operational changes. Furthermore, it’s also critical to documenting processes, which lessens onboarding time and equips teams to stay agile.
Fatigue is detrimental to the safety of patients and health workers alike. When care facility staff is exhausted, they are more prone to making errors, forgetting things, having difficulty processing information and reacting slowly.
Workforce managers can prevent their staff from experiencing fatigue through efficient scheduling and leave management. However, staff schedules can be difficult to plan and subjects staff to work in shift patterns, which fail to account for other factors such as demand, leave and time for training.
“Try planning your schedule out as far in advance as possible to lock in both the time for leave and training,” Davies explained. Monitoring annual leave balances throughout the year also helps allocate resources accordingly and make sure the staff gets enough time off to curb the effects of stress.
Technology such as Workforce.com provides managers oversight into all the essential factors with staff scheduling. Minus the paperwork, managers can use the platform to make better decisions when creating schedules and ensure that time off, training, and demand are accounted for.
Labor costs and demand are difficult to control and forecast. If not managed properly, it can drive up expenses, resulting in the organization becoming less financially agile. This can make team members feel insecure about the company and may cause them to leave.
“Build a mock schedule well in advance and cost it using employees’ base pay and overtime to help predict cost. Test different scenarios,” Davies advised. Identifying key demand trends and indicators can also help in forecasting costs.
It’s also crucial to pay close attention to the variance between schedules and actual timesheets. Investigate probable causes of overspending and optimize your operations to address them.
More importantly, health care organizations should have a way to proactively manage demand and cost rather than acting on issues after the fact. Having access to labor analytics is vital to do that. Workforce.com captures real-time costs and revenue throughout the day, allowing managers to react quickly and make cost-effective decisions on the fly.
Complying with labor laws is a must, but keeping up with changes can be tough.
“Promote compliance as a culture, not as one person’s job,” Davies said. Integrate compliance to every part of workforce management. Ensure that processes and systems are designed to stay at pace and adhere to labor laws.
Companies can start with digitizing their documents so that files can be remotely audited and monitored. Compliance can also be accounted for in creating employee schedules. Workforce.com’s employee scheduling platform factors in labor laws and alerts managers if a schedule is at risk of violating regulations. Legislation that affects payroll is also crucial for companies to pay close attention to as it impacts labor costs and treatment of overtime and holidays.
When systems are integrated for labor compliance, all activities are tracked and fixing potential noncompliance risk would be quicker.
“Resilience is something that we can build into all of our businesses, and it’s never too late to start,” Davies said. Recognizing the gaps is half of the battle. The other half is finding the right solution to address them.
Workforce.com has been partnering with businesses in different industries to help them engage their teams, safeguard their finances and stay compliant. See our solutions in action and book a demo with us today.
We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.
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