Your challenge – issued in one of my recent blog posts – is to put a smile on your CFO’s face by reducing labor costs. Being his or her new BFF is easier than previously believed using a few surefire strategies available RIGHT NOW!
Today’s post focuses on keeping core staff at a minimum. Why? To prevent excess overhead such as recruitment, retention, employee health, benefit costs and, importantly, improve core staff morale by reducing floating and cancellation.
Of course this strategy only works if you’re prepared to rapidly expand your workforce with high-quality contingency resources in times of high need. This is the place during Avantas education sessions where eyes glaze over and the audience collectively begins to make their grocery list as they think, “They’re not talking to me,” “We have that covered,” and “That’s what our float pool is for.”
NOT SO FAST! If you cannot name several viable sources of healthcare contingency staff available to you today, we ARE talking to you. The workforce plan for organizations of any size – daily census of 100 or more – must include several carefully chosen and judiciously managed layers of contingency staff.
The following are examples of the internal layers you’ll want to consider:
- Enterprise Float Pool: If you have two or more facilities within 30 minutes normal driving time, an enterprise float pool is a wise strategy.
- Site-based Scheduled Float Pool: A small segment of nursing generalists ready for rapid deployment and redeployment based upon your organization’s emerging needs.
- Site-based PRN Pool: In many situations, the largest segment of your contingency resources will come from those who work a fluctuating schedule based upon the match between your organization’s needs and the individual’s availability.
- Unit-based PRN Pool: Consider this the right strategy only in heavily specialized units. Examples are burn or neonatal intensive care departments.
- Core staff in extra shifts and overtime: Regrettably this is far too often the primary source of healthcare contingency staff. To prevent burnout and erosion to morale, this should be your rarely used, never over-used, go-to strategy during times of extraordinary need.
Don’t rule out a sprinkling of external sources, such as:
- The RIGHT Agency Partnership: Previously considered the absolute WRONG strategy, I’m urging you to challenge your thinking. Carefully choosing and nurturing relationships with one or two high-quality local agencies can save the day.
- Travelers: In the past, some organizations over used this strategy giving it a well-deserved bad reputation. When a comprehensive, multi-layer contingency plan is in place, carefully planned, well-timed traveler assignments may become the final piece to the puzzle.
The correct size of any of these layers of contingency resources vary from organization to organization. There is no universal ratio that works for every health system. The first step to achieving the proper size and layering of staff is to understand your demand – what amount of staff you need to adjust to the ebb and flow of patient demand without cancelling core staff excessively. This is accomplished through an analysis of core staff behaviors and trends, historical census levels and predicted future census, staffing levels, payroll, and various HR information. Drop us a line to learn more.
Future blog posts will cover simple methods for recognizing characteristics necessary for successful pool membership and tips for operating a system of healthcare contingency staff management.