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ICYMI: Post-Pandemic Labor Cost Reduction & Employee Engagement Best Practices For A Fresh Start

June 4, 2021 | Jason Kasik

Post-Pandemic Labor Cost Reduction & Employee Engagement Best Practices From A Fresh Start (1)As part of OnShift's Customer Success team, I work with our valued clients to understand and solve their most pressing workforce challenges. And while the pandemic has definitely taken a toll on the communities I coach, I can confirm that things are starting to turn around. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Of course, embracing and moving forward in this new normal will require new strategies. And as of late, that's what many of the conversations I'm having with customers are all about -- what can we do today to see results now while also setting us up for success in the future, particularly when it comes to labor management?

I had the opportunity to share some of the key practices OnShift customers are putting in place to minimize agency and overtime and successfully engage and retain staff into the future during a recent webinar, which is now available on demand. I encourage you to listen in, but in the meantime, here are some of the main strategies that were shared.

Reset, Recalibrate, Realign

At this point in the pandemic, I'm encouraging my customers to take a step back, evaluate where they stand in terms of labor management and redefine their goals. Do we know where to go to track the goals? Are all team members -- from leadership to employees -- aware of these goals and on the same page about new expectations? Getting everyone on the same page before moving forward is critical. 

Below are some of the common goals my customers are setting right now and the key metrics we look at together to determine progress. The dashboards within OnShift give providers the visibility needed to be proactive in achieving these goals.

Key Labor Management Metrics

Look For Immediate Cost Savings

There's no magic button you can press to instantly remove overtime and agency. However, there are a few strategies, that when used in combination, can help cut costs in a big way.

How can you reach your target overtime goal 1.5% if you already have overtime built into your master schedule? Sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it? Built-in overtime on a master schedule is one of the lowest hanging fruits. Once it has been removed, these new open shifts should be the ones you present to your employees. And be sure to focus your hiring efforts on filling these slots.

Another quick win comes from examining employee utilization. Look at employees' average worked hours compared to their status. Are full-time workers working full-time hours? Are your part-timers working to their capacity? You'll see that much of your overtime and agency is coming from shifts that can be claimed by eligible workers.

And finally, now that you've done the above, let your employees help fill in the rest of your schedule. Posting the schedule about 30 days in advance gives staff ample time to reconcile their availability and pick up those open shifts. 

Monitor Excess Labor Costs

Many of my customers have been able to gradually cut excess costs by more closely monitoring overtime from punch variances and clock creep. Be sure you are presenting your timekeeping policy during new hire training. Have conversations with employees that may be not be following the policy. In most cases, when your staff knows you are monitoring punches, the behavior stops.

To get a better picture of punch patterns, I like to direct my customers to a feature in OnShift that can be found in every employee's profile. This feature populates a graph of each person's punch variance habits so management can easily address any issues during one on ones.

Additionally, OnShift Time, our modern time & attendance software, uses automated punch rules that restrict staff from punching in early or out late as well as facial recognition technology to prevent buddy punching.

Rethink Open Shift Management

Being able to properly staff each shift largely comes down to how you handle gaps in your schedule. Our customers use the open shift message feature in OnShift to alert any eligible and available employees of an opening. Those not at risk for overtime can be automatically approved for the shift. Not only does this save schedulers a ton of time but it gives employees an equal opportunity to snag those open shifts. 

I've also noticed an uptick in customers creating their own internal staffing pools, which I think is such a smart idea. Not only does it cast a wider net of coverage, but it allows you to keep those friendly, familiar faces in your building, leading to better quality and continuity of care.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I don't need to tell you that the pandemic took a serious toll on employees' well-being. Our Workforce 360 Survey found that 80% of organizations cite stress and burnout as a top personal challenge facing their staff. And rightfully so, as this was the group on the front lines of the fight. 

Armed with that knowledge, our customers did a fantastic job of keeping lines of communication open throughout the crisis. Providers used OnShift's messaging capabilities to share important updates around PPE availability, new safety procedures and the like. They also sent messages of encouragement and thanks to keep employees motivated and offer support.

My customers also used the pulse surveys in OnShift Engage to gauge satisfaction levels and collect feedback from employees. This really gave staff members a voice and a powerful one at that. Because of the feedback one organization received, they were able to uncover a PPE delivery had been missed and swiftly address the issue. I've heard many other stories about employee feedback leading to impactful process improvements at communities.

My customers understand how important it is to keep this level of communication up in a post-pandemic world. Additionally, with the retraction of things like hero and bonus pay, they've begun to revamp their rewards and recognition program to continue to show employees they are still superheroes. OnShift Engage makes it easy for management to systematically award points to employees for key behaviors such as punching in and out on time, not calling off, picking up extra shifts and simply going above and beyond their duties.

Other areas of focus for my customers include offering flexible schedules, as well as mental and financial wellness programs to support their employees. OnShift Wallet offers access to their earned but unpaid wages between paychecks to promote financial security for employees, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck. Our customers say that their employees were extremely grateful to have OnShift Wallet throughout the pandemic.

So, that gives you a rundown of what I covered during the live event. Like I said, I encourage you to watch the on-demand webinar when you find some time to hear me dive even deeper into these strategies. 

I'd just like to wrap up by giving a huge shoutout to our customers! It's such a pleasure to work with and learn from you all each day. And although the pandemic has been extremely challenging, the way you have responded has been truly inspiring. 

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About Jason Kasik

Jason is a Customer Success Manager at OnShift. He works hand-in-hand with providers on staffing initiatives such as increasing efficiencies, employee engagement, and controlling labor costs, which provide more time for what matters most, delivering high quality care and service. Through ongoing client communications, Jason reports on key staffing measures and offers best practices every step of the way to help ensure clients achieve their labor management objectives.

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