Senior care scheduling is no easy task. You may not realize it, but your scheduler wears many different hats within your organization. Schedulers often play therapist, doctor and mediator for your staff as they try to fill open shifts and figure out how to get everyone the PTO they’ve requested. For schedulers that have caregiver duties in addition to scheduling, it may be difficult for them to find enough time to do both tasks.
Schedulers are also tasked with managing the big investment you’ve made in your workforce, and that can have a big impact on your bottom line. With that in mind, it makes sense to empower your scheduler to do their job well, and to keep them engaged. While many senior care organizations are addressing turnover holistically, preventing scheduler turnover specifically may get lost in the shuffle. However, it is something you should consider.
When schedulers leave, it can be a huge speed bump for senior care organizations, causing management to scramble to get the scheduling done. When scheduling gets off track it can lead to an increase in overtime, gaps in your schedule, and a lack of proactivity in managing labor costs. But scheduler turnover is likely preventable with the right tactics.
Just like any employee, schedulers want to feel valued, supported and backed-up by management. Consider reviewing the pay and benefits you offer your schedulers, and give them the proper training they need. You also want to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed--but the best way to do that may differ from your other employees. Here are a few tips to create a positive environment where your scheduler can thrive.
- Pay attention to the data. Executive directors, administrators, and other managers should be on the same page regarding labor budget management. Know where to find staffing data and understand how your building is performing with overtime, call-offs, and other data points on a week-to-week basis. That way you can avoid surprises and address issues quickly. Look data over with your scheduler and if the numbers are not where you want them to be, investigate the root cause. Are you understaffed? Maybe your scheduler needs additional training. Whatever the problem is, work with your scheduler to improve it.
- Have clear policies and enforce them consistently. When it comes to things like PTO requests, attendance, and call-offs, policies should be well-defined and communicated to all staff. Everyone should know what to expect and schedulers should feel comfortable that management will back them up when policies are enforced.
- Everyone owns overtime. Overtime can’t just be the scheduler’s problem—it will take a team effort to move the needle. Overtime is often the result of turnover, call-offs, and poor planning. If overtime is not where you want it to be, set a goal to improve, create a plan, and communicate it to all employees. When everyone is aware of the goal, the entire group can help reduce overtime.
- Open the lines of communication. Check-in regularly with your scheduler. Consider creating a weekly standing meeting where you can take time to understand the challenges your scheduler is facing and help them find ways to overcome them.
- Offer positive feedback on a regular basis. The scheduler’s job is often thankless, but management can make a big impact by simply showing appreciation, especially in front of other employees. Find ways to compliment them. Did overtime go down? Are you staffed to budget for the week? Set small goals and recognize your scheduler when goals are met.
Though scheduling is a tough job, a little support can make a huge difference. It’s important to understand some of the struggles schedulers face and how they can result in poor job satisfaction. Maybe you’ve implemented some the above ideas—if you have, your scheduler is probably already feeling more valued. If you haven’t made a focused effort to engage your scheduler, just start with one item on the list and build from there.One last suggestion: if your senior care organization is still using paper schedules, that can make it difficult for schedulers to do their job well. Utilize technology to help schedulers be more efficient, proactively manage overtime, and have visibility into staffing data. The result will be an experienced, well-trained and engaged scheduler that can help have a positive impact your organizations’ bottom line.