The holidays can be a good time to relax and be with family and friends, and no one deserves this time more than caregivers and frontline staff. However, it can be a challenge for long-term care and senior living providers to balance employees' well-deserved time away with the care and service their residents deserve.
Striking that balance is particularly challenging for providers right now as the vast majority struggle to hire and retain the staff needed to meet demand. Because of this, it’s essential that providers start planning now to help avoid major scheduling issues during the holidays.
Here are the top five workforce management strategies to ensure a happier holiday season for your residents and employees.
Understand Your Staff’s Availability
The holiday season looks a little different for everyone. That’s why it’s critical that you assess staff availability as soon as possible.
You may find that some employees require few or no changes to their schedule, while others may want to work different days or times to accommodate their holiday plans. Start working with your staff to see when and which days they’d prefer to work. While you may not be able to meet everyone’s needs, having those conversations now can help both your organization and staff plan accordingly.
Having these conversations early also allows you to uncover any major gaps in the schedule so you can find volunteers to fill those shifts and coordinate staffing to ensure proper coverage.
Think Beyond the Standard Shift Offerings
Flexibility is the key to successful staffing during the holidays. Offering shift times beyond the typical 7.5 to 8 hours can go a long way in ensuring you’re staffed consistently and properly throughout the season.
Depending on the preference of your employees, this could mean offering either longer or shorter shift times—or in some cases both. For example, you may have staff members that would prefer to work one 12-hour shift as opposed to two 7.5-hour shifts. Or you may have employees that don’t mind coming in at peak times during the holidays, but only for 2 or 4 hours.
Post Your Schedules in Advance and Make It Easy for Employees to Pick Up Open Shifts
Posting new schedules at least four to six weeks in advance can help you avoid future scheduling headaches such as call-offs or scrambling to fill shifts at the last minute. It can also give your staff the chance to volunteer for any open shifts still on the schedule once it’s posted.
Modern scheduling software, like OnShift, makes it easy for providers to alert all eligible and available employees of an opening right on their mobile device. This allows every employee a fair chance to pick-up those shifts and dramatically reduces the time schedulers spend filling shifts from hours to minutes.
Reward Employees that Fill Open Shifts
Rewarding employees for their accomplishments isn’t just a nice thing to do – it can be a huge motivator and key to retention. During the holiday season, it’s an especially generous way to recognize staff who go above and beyond every day and may be working hard-to-fill shifts to accommodate other caregivers’ holiday plans.
For peak holiday times, consider offering gift cards or, for those with an employee rewards program, bonus points that can be used toward future rewards.
Employee engagement software, like OnShift Engage, helps providers automatically recognize and reward employees for key behaviors, performance and contributions.
Say Thank You
The holiday season is the perfect time to thank your staff for their hard work and everything they’ve done for residents throughout the year.
Events like holiday pajama day, a secret Santa gift exchange, and free lunch days in the breakroom can bring a little joy to your staff during the workday. Get residents involved by having them write holiday greetings to their favorite staff members or coordinate a resident/staff holiday song sing-along. Fun activities can bring joy to your residents, give staff a break during their day, and serve as a bonus for working during the holidays.
Smarter Scheduling into the New Year
As you implement these strategies throughout the holiday season, consider how they could help your organization in the new year. Flexible scheduling and recognition for a job well done are two of the most in-demand perks for today’s workforce. Putting these practices to work all year long can make your organization more attractive to new hires and can boost overall engagement and satisfaction for current employees.