November 1, 2019 – No matter the industry, staffing and scheduling can be a point of contention for both managers and staff. Without the assistance of any tools, scheduling staff takes a lot of time and guesswork, and can leave staff dissatisfied if they perceive it to be unfair. Staffing and scheduling can benefit immensely from machine learning, analytics, and automation, but approaching it with empathy is essential if you want improvements that will stick and employees who are motivated and engaged.
Let’s walk through an example of how leading with empathy instead of just looking at data can make all the difference.
The amount of time staff spend on the clock before or after a scheduled shift — referred to as incidental worked time (IWT) in hospitals — is an important metric to monitor. Because there are clinical justifications that cause IWT, such as staying a little later to ensure a smooth shift transition for a high-acuity patient, most provider organizations have a reasonable tolerance level. However, according to research conducted by Avantas, these situations make up about 40% of all IWT occurrences, leaving more than half of them deemed unnecessary and preventable.
What may be surprising to staff and managers is that a few minutes of extra time a staff member spends on the clock can aggregate to hours at the organizational level, potentially meaning thousands of dollars being spent on preventable IWT occurrences each pay period.
A department leader can use analytics to monitor how much IWT is occurring in a particular department and determine if it needs to be reduced. The leader can go to the unit manager and tell him or her their staff needs to be in and out on time, without considering the underlying causes. This type of approach will likely not do anything to lower incidences of IWT.
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