Technology that enables staff satisfaction and workforce optimization can lead to better outcomes, both from a financial and clinical perspective. The workforce accounts for 54.2% of operating expenses1, so utilizing up-to-date workforce technologies to manage and optimize staffing is a smart move. However, those benefits can, and should extend far beyond the budget.
Research has shown that changes in technology may allow for substantial improvements in the use of nurses’ time and the delivery of safe patient care2. In addition to helping nurses increase their daily effectiveness, workforce management technology can help manage broader job satisfaction, which in turn can impact job performance.
An overarching strategy that relies on analytics to drive decisions can help ensure that everyone within the health system is working collaboratively rather than in disconnected silos. Solutions that leverage analytics to match nurses and patients based on staff skills and preferences, patient care needs, and budget constraints allow organizations to effectively flex the workforce. This results in a more balanced workload for nurses, which can be a satisfier for nurses and their patients.
Research has shown that providing nurses with control over their work schedule can enhance their sense of control and predictability, as well as improve the quality of work life3. Labor cost containment can be achieved by more effectively utilizing internal staffing resources through tactics that engage front-line staff in the process of filling open shifts. Data transparency gives employees the ability to view open shifts, and empower them to voluntarily pick up a shift they are qualified for, eliminating the need for costly premium labor or overtime expenses. With this Collaborative Staffing approach, patient care needs are met, nurses achieve a better work-life balance and labor costs are contained.
Nurses that work too much overtime can suffer from fatigue and stress that can result in serious, expensive medical errors, such as an increased risk of patient falls and hospital-acquired infections and an increased likelihood of medication errors4. According to industry surveys, more than 50% of full-time nurses work an average of 7 hours of overtime each week5. If you consider that overtime can account for up to 7-10% of total worked hours, it can cost a 300-bed hospital upwards of $3.7 million annually6. Eliminating overtime completely may be unrealistic, but C-suite executives should question what amount of overtime is acceptable.
So what’s next? Taking a collaborative team approach that uses analytics to drive data-driven staffing decisions is a good first step. By recognizing the importance of staff satisfaction and creating an engaged workforce, organizations are in a better position to achieve the clinical, financial and operational goals they seek.
1 Becker’s Healthcare. 10 Statistics on Hospital Labor Costs as a Percentage of Operating Revenue. Accessed December 10, 2013. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/10-statistics-on-hospital-labor-costs-as-a-percentage-of-operating-revenue.html
2 Hendrich, Ann, et al. “A 36-Hospital Time and Motion Study: How Do Medical-Surgical Nurses Spend Their Time?” The Permanente Journal 2008
3 Kilpatrick, K., & Lavoie-Tremblay, M. “Shiftwork: What health care managers need to know. Health Care Manager” 25(2), 160-166.
4 Bae, Sung-Heui. “Presence of Mandatory Overtime Regulations and Nurse and Patient Outcomes.” Nursing Economics. March/April 2013: 31, no.2: 59-89.
5 Bae, Sung-Heui. “Nursing Overtime: Why, How Much, and Under What Working Conditions?” Nursing Economics, 30, no 2 (March/April 2012): pg. 64.
6 Sage Growth Partners Analysis.