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Employee Engagement Strategies From A Five-Star Rated Community

August 20, 2018 | Peter Corless

employee engagement tipsLast week I covered five recruiting tips that Lisa Whited, HR Director at Washington Odd Fellows Home, a Five-Star rated community, shared during a McKnight’s Long-Term Care News webinar with OnShift. 

And as promised, here are more winning workforce strategies around the next stage of the employee lifecycle: engagement and retention…plus one bonus tip around cutting operational costs.

Let's dive right in...

Tip #1: Dig Into The Data

Lisa recommends regularly diagnose staff satisfaction and performance to uncover areas for improvement and recognition. Monitor performance metrics like call-offs, late punches and turnover and regularly survey staff to trend satisfaction, rank issues and make process improvements based on the feedback received.

“We started using OnShift Engage last fall and survey feedback from our staff is heard and acted upon accordingly. Some examples include ideas for improving the tray line in dietary services and how to change the physical layout of our center to move a charting station closer to the residents,” Lisa said. “And they are also giving shout outs to coworkers.”

Tip #2: Strengthen Employee-Manager Relationships

It’s all about communication – timely and specific communication that engages each individual and makes them feel valued. Be sure to acknowledge what may seem like small, everyday tasks (picking up extra shifts, consistent attendance, exceptional resident/family service) and tailor recognition to the employee – whether that be movie tickets, a gift card to their favorite restaurant or retailer, etc.

“OnShift Engage also helps us reward employees for meeting our Odd Fellows expectations and has helped strengthen relationships,” Lisa explained. “And the satisfaction has definitely gone up.”

Washington Odd Fellows Home also makes it a priority to build relationships between managers and employees on the third shift to ensure they’re thriving and up to speed on any changes or important announcements.

“Typically, our managers are here on the day shifts Monday through Friday, so the feedback coming through the pulse surveys and messaging to management has been really key,” she said.

Tip #3: Engage Employees In The Scheduling Process

Work with each of your employees to achieve best-fit schedules and let staff update their scheduling preferences and availability as needed. Washington Odd Fellows Home gives their employees mobile access to their schedules, which is a huge win for the younger generations. And finally, experiment with shift flexibility for better coverage and happier employees. 

“The OnShift scheduling program that we’ve been using for over three years makes it so easy and the employees that are on call love the flexibility of picking their own shifts,” Lisa said. “It’s a win-win for the work-life balance.”

Tip #4: Develop A Plan For Filling Open Shifts

Don’t just wing it when someone calls off or you have open shifts in your schedule. Have a plan in place where you notify all employees for a chance to volunteer. When a call-off occurs, fill it equitably by identifying and notifying all available and qualified employees. And to be sure you’re always staffed properly, be proactive and plan ahead for holidays, summer vacations and the like.

“With OnShift’s scheduling tool, it’s a breeze to fill open shifts because they are broadcast through a text, email or phone call,” she said. “And most of the staff love the opportunity to pick up those extra shifts.”

Bonus Tip: Minimize Excess Cost Even If Short Staffed

Fortunately, there are workarounds for avoiding excess labor costs when you’re short staffed. Try proven tactics like staffing to hit daily targets, monitoring, predicting and preventing overtime, and curbing agency use.

“The scheduling program provides an at a glance view of each employee’s overtime status and generates daily reports of who will incur overtime by the end of the pay period if things continue to progress,” Lisa explained. “So, management has easy access to this information to prevent the overtime.”

It’s important to examine employee utilization to make sure you’re getting the most out of your staff. Often, supposed hiring needs are just a result of a full-time employees not working full-time hours. And by all means, keep your CMS Five-Star Staffing Rating top of mind. It’s a top driver of business and affects your reimbursement rate.

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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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