With growing demands on the workforce, flexibility offers an attractive perk to job seekers. The millennial workforce is drawn to a lifestyle that allows them to fit their career into their personal lives, rather than living their life around their work.
This is good news for hospitals and health systems that are growing increasingly concerned about the expanding gap between supply and demand. It’s become all too common for managers to scramble for available resources, conduct recruitment calls, ask staff to extend shifts, and make plans to float core staff from their home base to fill a need on another unit. While necessary, provider organizations are encouraged to limit floating core staff as much as possible to keep their core staff happy. It’s a perpetual balancing act of filling critical staffing needs and not frustrating staff to the point of walking out the door.
Having resources that can flex up and down with patient demand is a vital resource to have and can ease a lot of strain when it comes to staffing. A float pool is one such resource. Although not a new concept, float pools have evolved in recent years. Depending on the size of the facility or system, there may be more than one type of float pool to provide the greatest benefit to an organization. For larger health systems with multiple hospitals within one metro area, an enterprise-wide float pool is an excellent resource. This type of contingency layer is comprised of highly-skilled and flexible nurses who are able to float to multiple units within multiple facilities.
Enterprise float resources are deployed to the areas of greatest need, meaning staff should enjoy working in a variety of units. It also means that they have freedom over their schedule, signing up for shifts that fit into their lives.
The University of Kansas Hospital is one example of a leading organization that has had great success in tapping into the millennial workforce to provide needed flexibility.
Is everyone a good fit for an enterprise float pool? No. Regardless of what generation they fall into, some individuals thrive on routine and shudder at the thought of not knowing where they will work until a few hours before the start of their shift. But there are a lot of people who like the spontaneity and flexibility.
HR must take an active role in matching an applicant’s traits with the organization’s open positions. This is easier said than done as it must take into account actual vs. perceived motivations of staff members. Filling a role with a person who is not adequately suited is a short-term solution with long-term negative consequences, including the eventual cost of turnover.
Designing and maintaining a resource pool is not a “be-all end-all” solution to healthcare workforce management. It is a piece of the puzzle that when combined with other strategies such as policy standardization, staffing and scheduling automation, and centralized resource management works to best optimize a provider organization’s workforce.