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Ensuring that you have the correct number of employees, with the right skills, during a specific time period, is essential in healthcare, as both overstaffing and understaffing are extremely costly, and could potentially lead to critical mistakes. Set out below are some of the key challenges of employee rostering and scheduling for healthcare organizations.

The complexity of scheduling & rostering in healthcare organizations

The healthcare sector is unlike any other sector. For example, can you imagine trying to schedule a thousand employees in a 24/7 organization, with unknown and often unpredictable demand drivers? Add to this, variable start and finish times, rotating patterns, overtime, numerous departments, teams, and specialities – not to mention all the absentee conditions you can think of, along with requests for time off and shift swapping. Could it be more complex?

Tasked with delivering one of the most important services in our society

Ultimately, as a healthcare provider, you are tasked with trying to deliver one of the most important services in our society efficiently and cost-effectively with limited resources, while also attempting to balance the skills, needs, and desires of your employees. A stressed-out, overworked and unsatisfied workforce leads to high absenteeism rates (very prominent in the sector) and low motivational rates.

Poor scheduling practices and systems

In an era when computers can handle almost everything, it’s incredible that some healthcare organizations still rely on spreadsheets, clipboards, noticeboards, and from time to time a bit of sweet-talking and arm-twisting to function. Often, hospitals and other healthcare providers compartmentalize rostering. Different managers handle it for different departments or teams, sometimes using very different interpretations of the organization’s rules and policies. By doing this there is no way to coordinate and review the scheduling needs of the entire facility. Inevitably, there are errors and often a sense of inequity between departments/teams/roles. The key to good scheduling in healthcare is data, analytics, systems, software, culture, and management.

How to overcome scheduling & rostering challenges?

Analytics, combined with systems, enable a schedule to be optimized against defined objectives related to the cost of offering the service, the quality of the service provided, and health outcomes, while also meeting defined constraints. Within the healthcare sector, there is a growing awareness that the optimization of human resource allocation to demand, delivers several tangible benefits including; quality of service and employee satisfaction. However, easy as this may all sound, this is an extremely challenging and complex task. A key factor in workforce management scheduling optimization is to regularly analyze the demand for care to build schedules that are designed for this demand. To optimize the allocation of the workforce to the demand for care, the total potential capacity of the workforce needs to be ascertained, taking into account the diverse range of employees with different roles, expertise, experience, contracts, and skills.

Managers need up-to-date actionable information and easy-to-use tools to optimize staffing plans and process attendance, absence, statutory leave, time in lieu, overtime records, etc. Furthermore, they need to be able to make informed real-time decisions regarding labor requirements based on current and estimated patient volumes and employee availability.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers are undoubtedly facing significant operational and management challenges. For this reason, they must explore new ways of operating to ensure a more efficient and business-focused approach while sustaining a high level of service quality. The who, when, where, and doing what, need to be measured effectively and this is where a comprehensive rostering / scheduling platform is invaluable. Managers get the tools and operating parameters they need, at every level to deploy resource plans and schedules effectively, while delivering top-down management controls over wages or labor overhead, overtime, shifts, absence management, and other major cost drivers in the organization.

Better rostering and scheduling that includes employee self-service, allows healthcare organizations to create an experience that is more efficient for the sector, satisfying for patients, and attractive to employees. This means you get an opportunity to develop, motivate and retain your best employees.

To find out how Softworks can help you to automate and optimize employee scheduling, get in touch to book a demo today.

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