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Senior Care Staff Scheduling Blunders That Are Leaving Your Employees Dissatisfied

July 6, 2022 | Cari Rosenberger


What do resident outcomes, organizational success, and employee satisfaction have in common? They can all be impacted, either positively or negatively, based on how you manage your employee schedule. With staffing shortages, increased competition for talent, and growing employee demand for better work-life balance, you must have the right workforce management practices in place if you want to attract and retain top talent. And that starts by eliminating many of the common scheduling mishaps that leave staff feeling frustrated and your organization at risk for higher turnover and increased labor costs.

Being Under Or Over Scheduled

Whether you’re hired on to work part-time, full time, or even per diem, you come into any job with some expectations of how many hours you’ll be scheduled to work. So, when you see your schedule and you’re scheduled for far under or far over what you anticipated, it’s bound to leave you frustrated.

Many times, this situation is a simple mistake that can easily be adjusted. Other times, it’s due to a misalignment between what you hired for and what you need.

“We utilize our current schedule to create a hiring template,” said Nicole Kummala, Senior Director of Operational Support at Touchstone Communities during a recent session at the McKnight’s Workforce Development Forum. “Ultimately, when an applicant walks through our door, we can show them exactly what their rotating pattern will be. We can show them the days that they'll be working and the hours that they'll be working.”

For Touchstone Communities, a hiring template allows them to pinpoint their hiring needs. “We don’t have to guess when it comes to where we have openings,” noted Kummala.

But new hires aren’t the only ones who may find themselves under or over-scheduled. Regularly monitoring employee utilization can help you pinpoint employees who may not be getting the schedule they’re expecting. It can also uncover those who are being underutilized, and may be available to take on additional shifts, or those who are overutilized, and therefore, may be at risk of burnout.

Being Scheduled On A Day You Requested Off

Imagine seeing your name on the schedule for a day you requested off. Scheduling an employee when they’ve requested time off is not only frustrating for that staff member but could potentially leave you with a last-minute gap in your schedule if left unaddressed.

To avoid this scenario, make sure any time-off requests are immediately reflected on the schedule. By adding time-off for employees to the schedule, you can avoid inadvertently assigning them for a shift and give yourself ample time to find a replacement.

Limited Access To View And Request Open Shifts

When you’re thinking about picking up an extra shift, you don’t want to wait until your next shift to see what’s still available on the calendar or play phone tag with your scheduler trying to find the shift you want.

Collaboration is key when it comes to reducing scheduling gaps and avoiding excess labor costs from overtime or last-minute shift bonuses. It can also go a long way in boosting overall staff satisfaction and engagement. Because of this, you need to ensure employees have easy access to view and request open shifts anytime, anywhere.

OnShift’s mobile app makes it easy for staff to see which shifts are available and submit a request with the tap of a finger. “Our team members can see when they work next, right from their smartphone,” said Kummala. “And if I'm not going to be in overtime, whether I'm PRN, part-time or full time, I can be auto-approved for the shift, which is fantastic. We don't even have to touch the computer to approve those shifts.” In the last year, Touchstone Communities automatically approved over 6400 shifts, saving their schedulers an estimated 535 hours.

Favoritism When It Comes To Filling Call-Offs

Does your call-off process involve manually calling down a list or searching the floor to find a replacement? This process is not only frustrating for you but your employees as well. It can also leave the impression of favoritism as schedulers begin to assemble a short list of staff who are typically willing to fill a last-minute shift.

To solve this dilemma, and fill shifts more effectively and efficiently, implement a call-off process that allows you to cast the widest net possible when it comes to notifying staff of a last-minute shift need. The integrated messaging system within OnShift’s staff scheduling software makes it easy to log call-offs and notify employees of an open shift with just a few clicks. All eligible and available employees can be instantly alerted either via text message or push notification via the OnShift mobile app of an upcoming opening. Responses are sent directly to the scheduler for approval.

The communication system in OnShift also makes it easy to send general updates and announcements to staff—whether it’s across your entire organization, a single department, or a select group of employees. This ability to quickly reach employees is not only effective in filling shifts but ensuring staff are kept informed even when they’re away from their community.

Schedules That Lack Consistency & Employee Input

Work-life balance is a top priority for today’s workforce—especially with burnout on the rise due to the pandemic. Helping your employees achieve this work-life balance starts by working directly with your team members to create best-fit schedules and patterns that work for the needs of your organization, your residents, and your employees.

We found that staffing patterns are a win for everybody that’s involved,” said Kummala. Not only can team members anticipate their schedule and better plan for life outside of work, but residents can anticipate their care team. “Consistent assignments enhance relationships between residents and team members. Those relationships are so critical when it comes to retention,” continued Kummala. “It improves team member, resident, and family satisfaction. It has decreased our team member turnover, and ultimately it's improved our clinical outcomes because our team members, they know the residents.”

Kummala notes that at Touchstone Communities, they’re working to implement specific staffing patterns that offer staff 12-hour shifts using a wagon wheel rotation. “Twelve-hour shifts best maximize our team members without causing burnout,” said Kummala. This specific rotation offers staff the ability to work 7 days in a pay period vs. 10 days with the more commonly used 4-2 staffing pattern for 8-hour shifts. Employees also get every other Friday through Sunday off.

“We've significantly reduced our shift pickup incentives by increasing regularly scheduled shifts. It's truly been a win-win situation,” notes Kummala.

To hear more about the innovative workforce and employee engagement strategies Touchstone Communities is putting in place to support their employees, facilitate communication, promote consistent staffing, and control labor costs, check out Creating A Culture Of Connectedness To Drive Employee Retention In Senior Care now on demand.

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About Cari Rosenberger

Cari Rosenberger is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at OnShift.

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