Four tips for optimising the modern workforce
The health sector, like many others, has experienced significant disruption due to the pandemic and the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.
As the frontline are fighting the impact of the coronavirus, healthcare workers have experienced stress and burnout like never before. Research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) conducted during Australia’s first COVID-19 wave showed that three-quarters of respondents had wrestled with their obligation to work and the risk of infecting themselves and their families, and 42% were less willing to work than they had been prior to the outbreak.1
With the pandemic now in its third year, the healthcare sector and its labour force have been under continued stress and pressure, with many staff reconsidering their future in the industry. However, despite the challenges, the sector is also in a position to identify and harness new opportunities.
For example, government research shows employment in the industry has increased by 22% over the past five years, with a further projected growth of 14% by 2025.2 This is due to new employees entering the workforce as well as past staff returning to previous roles. However, fluctuations in the labour force make health care increasingly competitive. As such, delivering a great employee experience is essential for healthcare organisations looking to attract and retain good talent.
Technology can help to provide a better experience for healthcare workers, particularly when it comes to optimising staffing. Many healthcare organisations are turning towards smart scheduling solutions to help mitigate the risks of excessive overtime and burnout.
There are four ways smart scheduling solutions can help healthcare organisations optimise their operations, helping to recruit and retain valuable talent:
1. Optimised scheduling
Different areas within the healthcare sector have unique requirements when it comes to scheduling. For example, complex and dynamic environments like emergency rooms or surgical units may require a constant realignment of resources based on demand, whereas a general practitioner clinic might be more static. By deploying an automated scheduling solution, healthcare organisations can ensure they’re placing the right people, with the right skills, into the right shift, at the right time.
Having real-time visibility into attendance and productivity data means leaders can pivot quickly to ensure staffing levels meet the needs of patients in a cost-effective way, while eliminating time-consuming manual rostering. Leveraging an automated scheduling solution lets managers more efficiently manage staff changes in real time and quickly rebalance staff levels based on coverage and workloads.
2. Overtime control
It should go without saying that excessive overtime can be damaging to the health and wellbeing of any worker, and especially those in health care, as fatigue and burnout can filter down and ultimately lead to reductions in the quality of care delivered to patients. It’s critical that healthcare organisations put solutions in place that help them better manage overtime across their workforce.
By leveraging automated scheduling solutions, healthcare organisations can create rosters that reduce over- and understaffing, as well as occurrences of unplanned overtime. Smart scheduling solutions can take anticipated patient demand into account in conjunction with company and regulatory policies, helping to anticipate each shift’s needs more accurately and decrease fatiguing, excessive overtime.
3. Efficient shift management
Shift changes can be a cumbersome process, especially for industries like health care that require around-the-clock support. However, savvy healthcare organisations are increasingly investing in technology solutions that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and employee self-service options to automate routine, time-consuming processes such as time off or shift swap requests.
Using digital solutions to automate this process can eliminate the need for healthcare staff and managers to call around for other potential workers to cover shifts when an employee is unavailable, especially when changes are required last-minute. Solutions that open up shift availability to the wider workforce also ensure that shifts can immediately be filled by those who want them, without causing any compliance violations.
4. Automate and access more benefits
Improving the management of shifts, scheduling and overtime can help to keep healthcare workforces engaged, combating dissatisfaction that causes workers to seek opportunities elsewhere. Healthcare professionals can also deliver an improved quality of care to patients when controls are in place to reduce fatigue or burnout. When healthcare organisations fail to do this, they risk losing talented, engaged employees, impacting both their care effectiveness and the bottom line.
To mitigate these risks, healthcare organisations should consider investing in digital solutions that streamline and automate workforce management. This includes solutions that: empower and engage the healthcare workforce with self-service functionality available from anywhere, on any device; leverage mobile tools and self-service to streamline time off and shift swap requests; and automate policies and processes to ensure consistency across the organisation.
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