COVID-19 and the resulting “great resignation” has many employees rethinking their priorities. Healthcare is among the industries suffering the most from labor shortages. With the demand for skilled healthcare employees at an all-time high, it’s critical to have active, open communication with your staff. There are several hot-button areas where today’s employees are seeking improvement in working conditions, but one of the most challenging for ECPs is the desire for flexibility in hours, days and location of work. Your employees realize that their options for flexible work routines are fewer than many other occupations. Any willingness on your part to discuss even small allowances for flexible work that do not impact quality of care will be appreciated by your employees.
Minimal Impact for Big Potential Payoff
There are a couple of reasons why entertaining some flexible staff scheduling will not open Pandora’s Box. First, everyone on staff in a small business realizes that when a co-worker is absent, their job is harder, so your employees have a negative incentive to favor too much flexibility in the schedule. Also, with the current labor shortage, the public has begun to accept businesses being under-staffed. By keeping the flexibility in staff scheduling to a minimum, there should be little or no impact on patients’ perception of service.
To varying degrees, today’s employees have reset their priorities – elevating the importance of their home and their family life while downgrading the importance of their job. Considering the current labor market and the cost of staff turnover, now is a great time to poll your employees. If there is a strong desire for more flexibility and a mutually agreed upon plan for implementation, everybody wins.
Although unique options for flexible staff scheduling will exist in every practice, here are some ideas:
- Allow those with young children to arrive to work later, especially when school is in session.
- Help avoid COVID-related burnout. Create a safe mask-free workstation in a remote location in your facility. Schedule time for individual staff members to perform solo tasks here that do not require direct patient interaction.
- Explore cyber-safe options for key staff members such as managers and billers to work remotely part of the time.
- Reward excellent performance with hours of flexible paid time off.
- Consider job-sharing where part-time employees share a full-time position.
Show your employees that you respect their work-life balance. Help create a culture where commitments outside of work are recognized, yet everyone takes their turn pitching in to maintain a high level of service.
Pro Tip: When considering changes that impact human resources, it’s critical to be specific and create well-defined policies. Review the new policies with staff and make sure to eliminate any sources of ambiguity or confusion.