Costs in healthcare are on the rise—particularly for I/DD providers caring for clients in a group home or residential setting. Due to the pandemic, many have seen increases in employee call-offs and as a result, overtime, as they scramble to find employees to fill shifts. Turnover, particularly for DSPs, has continued to be a challenge as staff have left either due to growing concerns and fears over COVID-19 or added family or childcare responsibilities. At the same time, added costs such as additional personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and infection control measures are hitting providers hard.
Your workforce is your greatest asset and your largest expense. But not all labor costs are so obvious. Here are some of the hidden costs I/DD providers must continuously monitor in order to remain successful today and in the future.
One of the most common forms of time theft, clock riding, also referred to as clock creep or shift creep, occurs when an employee clocks in a few minutes early and/or out a few minutes late as a way to intentionally pad their paycheck. In many cases, clock riding isn’t discovered until payroll is run. And by that point, the behavior has become a pattern.
While it may seem innocent enough for an employee to add 15 minutes of time here or there to their timecard, the costs for I/DD providers can add up quickly.
Monitor punches daily, looking for any variances between when an employee was scheduled to work and when they punched in and out. You may even be able to set up automated notifications that can alert managers and supervisors to potential clock riding within your time & attendance software.
Once identified, address these situations with employees right away. In the majority of cases, a discussion with the employee in question is enough to keep it from being repeated in the future.
While you may never be able to completely eliminate overtime. There are a number of steps you can take to prevent it. The first is to examine what is often referred to as “scheduled overtime”, i.e. overtime that has been built into a master schedule template or onto a newly posted schedule. In some cases, this overtime is put onto the schedule unknowingly. In other cases, it is added in anticipation that it will be required.
While scheduling overtime in advance may help put home managers and schedulers at ease when it comes to filling yet another shift, it can also lead to increasing amounts of unnecessary overtime.
As a best practice, overtime should never be built into a master schedule or newly posted schedule. Instead, allow for staff members to request these shifts and prioritize those least at risk for incurring overtime. Doing so can help you better maximize the use of your staff and reduce excess overtime.
Understaffing is generally more of a cause for concern among I/DD providers as, depending on your program model, it has the potential to negatively impact quality care and service to your clients. Because of this, many providers don’t place a focus on areas where they may be overstaffed.
Overstaffing by even just one extra staff member per day can have significant cost implications. That’s why it’s essential that you establish and manage to a daily staffing target. Consider what your optimal staffing levels look like, as well as your minimum standards. This can give home managers and schedulers a range to strive for in order to avoid both understaffing, as well as costly overstaffing.
While regularly documenting employee availability and creating schedules around each DSP’s preferred shift times can go a long way in reducing call-offs, you’ll never be able to completely eliminate them. Life happens and priorities change. However, the process in which you use to fill those call-offs could be hitting your bottom line.
Manually calling down a list of names or relying on the same go-to staff members to fill in is both inefficient and ineffective. While you may reach your ultimate goal of filling the shift, you may be doing so at the added expense of unnecessary overtime.
When call-offs occur, communicate those openings fairly and equally to all available and qualified employees. An all-staff messaging system can help you quickly send open shift notices via text message or, in the case of OnShift Schedule, via a push notification. Make sure any communication system you use allows staff to easily reply to those message right from their phone. Then, as replies come in, prioritize assignments based on those least at risk for incurring overtime.
How many of your full-time employees are working full-time hours? How many of your part-time employees are overscheduled for this week? Are you maximizing the use of your PRN staff? If you’re unsure, then you may be losing valuable dollars due to poor employee utilization.
Particularly in today’s climate, I/DD providers are looking to responsibly stretch the use of their staff.
Closely monitor employee utilization on a regular basis. Pay particular attention to those full-time employees who may not be working full-time hours. Then look for part-time staff that may be working over their part-time status allotment. Doing so consistently can help you understand who is potentially available to take on some extra time, reducing excess overtime. It can also help you spot potential burnout and correct the issue before it leads to turnover.
Excess Hardware Costs
One of the largest hidden expense in any I/DD setting could be something your employees use every day—your time clock. Traditional time clocks often come with ongoing maintenance fees and expensive upfront costs to own or rent.
Taking a more mobile approach to time & attendance can have major cost saving implications. Look for a provider who allows you to ditch traditional time clocks for either a centrally located tablet within your residences or the ability for employees to punch using their own personal device.
A time and attendance software, such as OnShift Time, helps providers bring this more modern time keeping experience to their employees, all while providing the insights providers need to reduce excess labor costs. State-of-the-art facial recognition biometrics makes punching in as simple as taking a selfie—plus it eliminates buddy punching, another hidden cost impacting I/DD organizations today.