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Senior Care Staffing Strategies For Managing During The Holidays

November 11, 2021 | Cari Rosenberger

Many see the holidays as a time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. And no one deserves this time away more than the caregivers serving our nation's seniors. However, this presents a great challenge for long-term care and senior living providers who are tasked with balancing employees' well-deserved time away with the care and service their residents deserve.

Striking the right balance will be particularly challenging for providers this year as the vast majority struggle to hire and retain the staff they need to meet demand. That’s why it’s essential that providers start planning now, as it can help avoid major scheduling issues later.

Here are the top workforce management strategies you can implement now to ensure a happier holiday season for both your residents and your employees.

Understand Staff Availability

Everyone’s holiday season looks a little different. That’s why it’s critical that you start speaking to your staff as soon as possible to properly assess availability.

You may find that some employees require few or no changes to their schedule at all, while others may want to work different days or times to accommodate their holiday plans. Work with your staff to see when and which days they’d prefer to work as soon as possible. While you may not be able to meet everyone’s needs, having those conversations now can help both your organization and staff plan accordingly—helping to reduce last-minute call-offs or no shows.

Having these conversations early also allows you to uncover any major gaps in the schedule so you can seek out volunteers to either fill those shifts or coordinate with agency partners to ensure proper coverage.

Think Beyond Standard Shift Offerings

The key to successful staffing during the holidays is flexibility. Offering shift times beyond the typical 7.5 to 8 hours can go a long way in helping to ensure 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 over two 7.5 hour shifts. Or you may have employees that don’t mind coming in at peak times during the holidays for 2 or 4 hours, versus their normally scheduled 8-hour shift.

Create An Internal Staffing Pool

While the holidays can be a magical time, this doesn’t make them immune from call-offs or no shows. Work with your staff to see who is most willing to fill-in potential last-minute needs. These employees can be put into an internal staffing pool, making it easy to identify who is available and simplifying the call-off management process for schedulers. Employee scheduling software like OnShift Schedule makes it easy to set up these types of internal staffing pools, whether it's at a single community or across multiple communities in a centrally located region.

Incentivize Hard To Fill Shifts

Shift differentials or shift bonuses are nothing new to long-term care and senior living. However, it’s essential to have in place during the holidays. Offer and promote these bonuses early and often to incentivize staff to pick up a shift or two. For peak holiday times, consider offering gift cards or, for those with an employee rewards program, bonus points that can be used towards their next reward.

Employee engagement software, like OnShift Engage, can help you automatically recognize and reward employees for key behaviors, performance and contributions. Plus, leadership boards help create friendly competition and work to gamify the employee experience—increasing engagement & overall satisfaction.

Say Thank You

The holiday season is meant to be joyful and fun. As a thank you to your staff for all they do during the year, and all they do for residents during the holiday season, be sure to find ways to say thank you and have a little fun.

Things 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 singalong. Activities like these can bring joy to your residents, give staff a break in their day and serve as an added bonus for coming to work during the holidays.

As you implement these strategies throughout the holiday season, consider how they could help your organization well into 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. It can also boost overall engagement and satisfaction for current employees, helping to increase retention.

Want to see how OnShift can help you better manage staff during the holidays and well beyond? Click here 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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