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Webinar Recap: Labor Management Strategies For Adapting & Succeeding In The COVID Era

Four Labor Management Strategies For Adapting & Succeeding In The COVID EraOnShift recently had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Becky Albertson, HR Enabling Technologies Analyst at Good Samaritan Society – Sanford Health, in which she shared how her organization is seeing labor management success during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her role, Becky, who has been dubbed the “OnShift Guru” by her colleagues, serves as the liaison between various vendor partners and the rest of the organization. Together, she and her team have been able to leverage our workforce management platform to effectively staff and communicate with their 18,000+ senior care employees during this time.

Going into 2020, Good Samaritan Society’s strategic goals were to manage staffing more strictly to budget, minimize overtime and eliminate agency usage. Much like every senior care provider, one thing they did not have planned for the year was navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. So, when it hit, Becky and her team knew they would need to pivot their focus in order to succeed.

Here are some of the strategies Becky shared during the webinar.

Keep In Constant Communication

Prior to the crisis, most of the communications sent to employees centered around reactive staffing needs such as open shifts, call-offs, etc. However, the onset of the pandemic forced them to quickly refocus and maximize the use of communication tools in OnShift to not only be more proactive with staffing, but to help keep their staff informed and up to date.

“CDC guidelines and state regulations were changing what felt like once or twice a day. Census began to fluctuate. Staff availability began to shift as they had to balance new priorities like lack of childcare and having spouses and family members out of work or sick,” Becky explains.

Additionally, they had to train staff for new COVID-related roles and in some cases, establish new isolation wings within their buildings.

“All of these things magnified our need for efficient and large-scope communication,” she says.

They implemented a broader approach to communicating with employees, instantly mass-messaging them about critical information as it became available.

“Some of the messages that we saw going out were about new required trainings, COVID testing requirements and testing dates, COVID positive cases, new screening requirements for employees coming to work or entering our buildings, the reorganizing of our units and staffing those units,” she explains.

Becky emphasized that the organization felt it was nearly impossible to over-communicate during this time.

“These messages were vital for our organization and for the health and safety of our staff and residents and we needed to keep communicating those messages day after day,” she explains.

Good Samaritan Society even sent video messages from their president, Randy Bury, to all frontline employees. Theses communications were sent via OnShift and focused on the organization’s plan for fighting COVID-19 and, mostly importantly, offered words of thanks and encouragement during the difficult and uncertain time.

Becky says that this increase in communication has worked wonders, keeping staff in the loop and increasing engagement in the OnShift mobile app by 24%.

Create A Single Source Of Truth

Good Samaritan Society’s proactive approach to labor management has allowed them to be agile during the pandemic. Rather than relying on historical data to inform their decisions, they are using the reporting features in OnShift to make more cost-effective staffing decisions now and in the future.

Additionally, they have made sure this information is readily available at all levels—from community to regional to corporate executives.

“All of our RVPs receive a weekly OnShift scorecard to give them a quick picture of the scheduling health of the locations they support,” she says. “It's really brought to the forefront how important it is to have one source of truth. We're all looking at the same data now from administrators to department heads, to regional leadership and executives. And together, we can collaborate around that data to suggest change, to try new things and to strive for our outcomes.”

Together they examine numbers around overtime and agency hours, as well as how far out the schedule is being posted for employees. They also look closely at key engagement metrics like the number of open shift messages sent, employee logins and leadership logins.

Having transparency into these numbers has helped the organization better coach their communities to drive success.

Establish Metrics That Matter

Every organization is different, but Good Samaritan Society uses the reporting in OnShift to get better insight into a few key areas: punch data, overtime hours and labor budgets.

By examining monthly clock creep, they are able to have conversations with employees to get to the root of the problem. Some locations had as many as 400 hours of monthly clock creep and that number now sits at less than 100 hours—a significant decrease.

Again taking that proactive approach, Good Samaritan Society looks at overtime scheduled 3 to 4 weeks out. Having this visibility allows them ample time to adjust the schedule and tap into underutilized employees. In one region alone, they cut overtime hours by 1,500 over the past two months, an estimated cost savings of $42,000.

And finally, they use the labor budget analysis report in OnShift, which is integrated with their PPD budget data and daily census feed, to ensure their staffing patterns and templates will keep them within budget. Seeing this data weeks in advance allows them to make more timely, cost-effective decisions.

Make Labor Management A Daily Conversation

Good Samaritan Society makes evaluating labor management a daily practice. Becky uses the data in OnShift to identify trends and guide her conversations with leadership.

“We're partnering together with operations, finance and HR to dig into root issues that impact scheduling and labor management and together we're collaborating with the communities for their goals,” Becky explains. “We then share where we are making progress, location to location and region to region.”

And this approach is working. As previously mentioned, they are significantly reducing overtime, staffing to budget and seeing an increase in employee and leadership engagement in OnShift. Plus, that increased staff engagement has led to an increase in shift pick-ups, ensuring their communities are properly staffed during this critical time.

“Because of all the integrations we have with OnShift, from our payroll system, our timekeeping system, our census and our budget, we have visibility into incredible amounts of data, all in the same system,” Becky says. “And when everyone is working from that same source of truth, we can truly develop goals and a game plan to achieve those outcomes.”

Looking To The Future

What will the post-COVID world look like for providers? That’s a question that seems to be on everyone’s mind.

“Together we have proven that even with all the changes and shifting of priorities and changes to work and home, that we can be more proactive and strategic,” she says.

Becky adds that they plan to build on the foundation they’ve created around transparency, communication and collaboration through the messaging features in OnShift. They will continue to facilitate more frequent communication from leadership regarding schedule changes, shift needs, policy changes, safety and wellness concerns and training opportunities. They will also make regularly thanking staff for their hard work, as well as offering support and words of encouragement, through their communication tools a top priority.

“The idea that we can send out a message quickly and efficiently to thousands of employees has been really amazing for us.”

They will also continue their daily labor management conversations to be more proactive. “I believe that much of what we’ve been doing in OnShift will remain our normal after the pandemic ends,” says Becky.

It was such a pleasure to hear Good Samaritan Society’s story. They are doing a fantastic job navigating the crisis and ensuring residents and staff stay safe. We thank Becky for taking the time to share all the incredible things they have accomplished as an organization and we look forward to our continued partnership.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation for Good Samaritan Society and all of the providers making incredible sacrifices during this time. 

To hear Becky dive even deeper into each of these areas, I encourage you watch the webinar on demand.


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