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Creating a Low-Call-Off Culture in Senior Care

Create a low-call-off culture If I were to tell you that call-offs cost you money and complicate staff scheduling for senior care facilities, you would be perfectly justified in responding, “Thank you, Captain Obvious, for that profound nugget of insight.”

That “Sorry, Boss” phone call is like the starting pistol in a footrace, setting off a mad dash to fill the shift. And the chances are good that the person who steps up to fill that shift will be working overtime, which only adds to the overall cost of responding to a call-off.

The odds that you can completely eliminate call-offs are as good as the odds that you or I will win a gold medal in the next Olympic Marathon. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps you can take to minimize call-offs -- and reduce your aspirin intake.

For example, you can create a quarterly incentive program that rewards staff members for good attendance. A little up-front investment in such a program could help to head off costs associated with call-offs. And that kind of reward program helps to instill a sense of appreciation among staff. (More on that in a moment.)

Similarly, you can require staff to find their own replacements if the need to call off is unavoidable. This practice can also be tied to a reward program, perhaps a quarterly bonus for those who are the most reliable at insuring that their shifts are covered.

On the flip side, a complementary strategy could involve a point system for disciplinary action. Points could be assigned based on the nature of the call-off, the amount of advance notice, and other factors and considerations. Policies can be established to take the accumulation of points into consideration in response to requests for time off for holidays, preferred shifts, or other perks.

Of course, some call-offs can result from illness. In such cases, the employee who calls off may be doing you an enormous favor. One call-off today could head off several call-offs and other problems later -- thanks to whatever new strain of flu is making the rounds. For that reason it makes sense to take steps to promote wellness in your facility.

But perhaps the most important step you can take to reduce call-offs is to create the kind of company culture that makes employees want to be at work. What can you do to make employees feel appreciated, to make them feel a sense of investment in the organization? Make employee engagement a priority by creating a mentor program or allowing them to have input into their work schedules. Employees who feel that they have an important role as part of a team are less likely to call off.

Bottom line: there is no magic bullet to totally eliminate call-offs. But with a little imagination and some careful planning, there are steps you can take to reduce the incidence and impact of call-offs. The long-term benefits should be obvious. 

Top photo by hin255 from freedigitalphotos.net