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March 8, 2021 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis

Why it's Time to Implement Flexible Scheduling in your Healthcare Facility

No one working in a long-term healthcare facility or clinic needs to be told that it's a uniquely challenging field, especially recently. The work is demanding, the physical and mental stress levels are high, and the pay is often low compared to similar industries. Still, for many healthcare professionals, those concerns are offset by the knowledge that their work is valuable and necessary to people in need. Everyone in the organization has a role in finding ways to best serve the facility's patients and residents, and that includes human resources professionals.

From an HR perspective, that often means developing an effective scheduling strategy that can accommodate the unorthodox requirements of the healthcare industry. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, managing schedules in clinics and long-term care facilities was a major challenge. The added concerns about workplace health and safety that have come about in the past year have only made it more difficult to maintain a fully staffed and functional healthcare facility. In the face of those new challenges, industry experts agree that an increased focus on flexible scheduling is the surest way to keep your operations running smoothly and your staff and residents healthy and satisfied. Let's look at a few ways implementing flexible scheduling can benefit your organization.

Combating burnout

Employee retention is a never-ending concern for healthcare employers. With turnover rates routinely standing between 45% and 66%, finding ways to reduce burnout amongst employees should be an imperative for any organization in the industry. Allowing more flexibility in the scheduling process is a solid strategy in an industry where the daily grind can wear workers down more quickly than most. That might entail rotating schedules, where employees switch shifts on a regular basis, or staggering days on and off work throughout the week. For many workers, this type of schedule offers relief from the stresses of day-to-day work in high-pressure nursing home and long-term care settings. If possible, offering employees a choice between fixed and flexible scheduling can create a more supportive, satisfying work environment for everyone.

Staying compliant

The healthcare industry has many regulations and their human resources functions are no exception. In many long-term care facilities, it is crucial to have employees with specific training and certifications onsite at all times, both for the safety of the residents and to ensure compliance with state and local laws. Keeping those roles consistently staffed with qualified workers can be a real challenge in an industry that faces chronic staffing shortages. A flexible scheduling system can make it easier for your HR staff to be certain that your facility is never without employees who have been properly trained to operate certain equipment or handle the needs of specific residents, while also making sure that those workers are not being stretched beyond their limits.

Empowering employees

Integrating a flexible approach to scheduling with tools that give employees more control over their own schedules is a helpful strategy, both for HR professionals and for front-line workers. While the HR leaders should always have the final say over setting and adjusting schedules, many organizations have had success by entrusting employees with more control over their own shifts. Mobile apps and other employee self-service options that allow workers to request time off, switch shifts with co-workers, and check their schedules remotely can have a big impact. Not only does this approach boost morale by empowering employees, it can also help to reduce the workload of day-to-day scheduling functions off of your HR managers.

Recruiting quality hires

As mentioned earlier, hiring and retaining high-quality employees is a constant challenge for the healthcare industry. Staffing shortages are routinely among the biggest concerns for HR professionals in clinics and long-term care facilities. With that in mind, a flexible approach to scheduling can be used as a powerful recruitment tool. Surveys have shown that as many as 80% of job seekers would choose a job that offers flexible scheduling over one with a more traditional approach. That is a very significant statistic in an industry whose workforce both skews older than most and is projected to grow rapidly in the coming decade. In order to attract qualified, high-quality workers, employers need to offer as enticing a work environment as possible. Flexible scheduling is an excellent way to appeal to new applicants at a relatively low cost and risk.

While there is no such thing as a simple, straightforward solution to the many challenges facing HR professionals in the healthcare industry, the current shift toward more flexibility presents an opportunity to relieve much of the pressures surrounding healthcare scheduling. By giving employees more variety in their work weeks, more power over their own schedules, and more confidence in the qualifications of their co-workers, employers can build a safer, happier, more consistent workplace for employees and residents alike.

Interested in implementing more flexible scheduling in your workplace? Learn how Ascentis workforce management software can provide you with a simpler, more dynamic scheduling system.