I just about fell out of my chair when I read the headline about a nurse who made $270,000 in one year thanks to some, no make that A LOT, of overtime. Seriously? Well, yeah, seriously. That’s the truth. And it’s certainly not the first time one person has benefited financially from “extreme overtime.”
I hear story after story about long-term care providers who struggle with mega amounts of overtime. One CNA was driving a decked-out sports car that she afforded due to additional overtime pay. Another made behind the scenes deals with schedulers to pick up open shifts and rake in the OT bucks. And continually I connect with administrators who are not aware of what their overtime rate is or how much overtime is being incurred each pay period.
These are the types of things I hear about working with providers on their staffing and scheduling challenges. The culprit is typically a lack of management, process, and control over staff scheduling, especially when it comes to open shifts or a last minute demand for additional staff due to a call-off or unexpected uptick in census.
Instead of adding your story to the next edition of Overtime Gone Wild, you need to get serious about managing it. The most critical thing that you can do is to get visibility into overtime before it happens. Get proactive about overtime. If you’re checking payroll reports to see what your overtime is, you’re too late because at this point, the problem has already occurred. Getting proactive means understanding what’s happening with your staffing and scheduling, and establishing processes to prevent unnecessary overtime.
Just a modest decrease in overtime can make big improvement to your labor costs. A 1% reduction to your overtime rate can save a 100-bed facility $24,000 – $60,000 annually. And when overtime is unavoidable, distribute it more evenly among staff. With these practices you’ll not only improve your bottom line, but you’ll experience a boost to employee satisfaction as well.
I’ve got a lot of advice and best practices for managing overtime to reduce costs and run more efficiently. I documented a few of these in a recent article I wrote for Long-Term Living Magazine. And tools like OnShift staff scheduling and shift management software can provide the visibility and controls you need to prevent overtime and fill open shifts in an instant.
Take a few steps to prevent overtime, and you’ll quickly see how much it can benefit your organization, and avoid becoming tomorrow’s headline.