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Overtime In Post Acute Care and Senior Living: What To Embrace & What To Avoid

February 10, 2022 | Cari Rosenberger

With today’s labor crisis, overtime has become an absolute necessity if you want to staff consistently for quality care and service. In fact, 76% of senior care organizations report they often rely on overtime to fill shifts,

While the added cost of overtime can have a big impact on your budget, it is often more cost-effective than offering last minute shift pick-up bonuses or other incentives. That’s why it’s important to determine which types of overtime are impacting your organization and identify areas where you can use overtime to your advantage.

Scheduled Overtime

Also known as planned overtime, this is overtime that is scheduled far in advance of a shift and is often built into your master schedule. In the past, providers would, as a best practice, regularly analyze their schedules for this built-in overtime prior to posting. This was a great way to avoid excess overtime and allow staff members who were not at risk of incurring overtime to request those shifts.

However, given today’s massive labor crisis, with 96% of providers impacted by staffing shortages, scheduled overtime, while still coming at a premium, can be one your biggest defenses against additional excess labor costs. 

But before you start building overtime into your schedule, make sure you are fully utilizing your current full-time, part-time and PRN staff. Once you know each of your employees is working their maximum availability, without going into overtime, then work with your staff to see if anyone is available and willing to regularly take on an added shift where needed.

To avoid burnout, be mindful of how many additional hours employees are taking on. OnShift’s scheduling software can help you monitor utilization so you can strike the right balance with your employees.



Frictional Overtime

This type of overtime most often occurs as the result of a last-minute call-off, no show or unexpected change in a resident care or service need. It’s no wonder then that frictional overtime is also often referred to as “response overtime,” as it accumulates in response to an unanticipated staffing need.

There are some processes you can put in place to help avoid frictional overtime. The first step is to make sure you have a call-off process that allows you to be more efficient and effective in finding a replacement.

When a call-off or no-show occurs, OnShift’s staff scheduling software allows you to quickly notify all eligible and available employees of an upcoming shift need. Staff can easily use OnShift’s mobile app to respond, and, if they are not at risk of overtime, they will be automatically approved for the shift.

Having a streamlined process to manage open shifts can ensure all employees have a fair and equitable chance to fill those last-minute needs. And while in the end that shift may still be filled using overtime, it provides an additional barrier against your reliance on agency.

Next, it’s important to regularly monitor who is calling off. With OnShift’s employee engagement software, providers can gain quick insights into employee attendance, allowing them to identify trends in call-offs, attendance policy violations and potential coaching needs. And, because what gets recognized gets repeated, it also calls out your top performers so you can reward them for their good work and give them motivation to continue to keep it up.

Incremental Overtime

While often the most manageable type of overtime, incremental overtime also tends to be the most overlooked. And much of that is due to a lack of real-time visibility into the punch discrepancies that lead to overtime that occurs a little bit at a time.

Punching in early, out late or missing meal breaks are some of the most common ways that employees incur incremental overtime. And as the name suggests, while they are typically small amounts of time, over the course of a few weeks, it can really add up. Multiply that over a few employees across a few months and over a few properties, and this excess overtime could end up costing you more than you think.


OnShift’s integrated workforce management software offers real-time visibility into potential clock-riding, or shift creep. By integrating punch data from OnShift Time or another timekeeping system into your scheduling solution, you can easily identify discrepancies between planned or scheduled hours vs. punched hours. Once you’ve identified a potential clock-riding situation, be sure to address it right away. Typically, this is enough to stop the behavior.

In addition, OnShift’s mobile time and attendance software offers added insights into missed meal breaks, as well as those who may be coming back from break earlier than their allotted time.

With the meal break compliance features within OnShift Time, you can schedule meal break windows which prevent employees from punching back in too early from a break. You can also add daily attestations at punch-out which help to document whether any state or company required breaks were offered and taken uninterrupted. These steps can help mitigate risk and help you avoid potential fees, fines or bonus pay that results when an employee missed a required break.

Workforce Management Software Can Help You Take Control Of Overtime

While long-term care and senior living providers may never be in the position to fully prevent overtime especially given the labor market conditions, with the right monitoring, processes and solutions in place, you can use overtime in a more appropriate and cost-effective way. OnShift’s human capital management software platform can give providers the visibility they need to best manage excess labor costs, so unnecessary overtime and shift bonuses can be avoided.

Ready to see how OnShift can help your organization take control of overtime and excess labor costs? Click below to request a demo!




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About Cari Rosenberger

Cari Rosenberger is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at OnShift.

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