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Cut Down on Unplanned Overtime

BlogWorkforceHuman Services

Costing out your time and services effectively is how you deliver exceptional care. And in human services organizations that means knowing not just how to organize and utilize your staff, but also when and where. Because the number one unexpected cost for care facilities you’re probably already dealing with? Unplanned overtime.

And those overtime costs? Depending on the size of your organization, they can spiral up to $1 million annually.

Neither you nor the people in your care can afford that level of ballooning cost and wasted resources. Issues that can be further worsened by staff shortages if you’re stuck relying on fewer people for the same number of shifts. The best way to prevent those unexpected costs and overuse of a small set of core staff? It’s as simple as better resource allocation.

But how do you manage it? There’s a lot that can go into changing how you handle staff allocation. But whatever kind of employee scheduling tool you’re working with, here’s three trusted methods you should start using asap:

1. Do an overtime audit

Sounds overly simple, right? But your absolute first step when assessing why you’re relying on overtime consistently has to be to learn why. Because the more you know, the more proactive you can be about fixing what’s undercutting delivering the most effective care. Without breaking your budget.

Start your audit focused on these questions:

  • How many overtime hours does your company currently incur annually?
  • What is the actual monetary cost of that overtime?
  • Where does the overflow come from/why is it occurring?
  • When does that overtime occur?

Once you have those answers, you can start figuring out whether your overtime is occurring at seasonal or otherwise fixed points, or if it follows different trends. And once you have that information, your next step is to:

2. Track real-time hours

It’s tempting to just assign your best and most available staff as much as possible. Especially because they’re always top of mind. And why wouldn’t you want them on shift when they’re your best? But you also have to consider core staff with specific skills and qualifications play another role in your organization: you have to be pairing those key carers with staff they can mentor. Which means splitting their hours so key carers can give newer staff that necessary training.

And eyeballing hours worked just doesn’t cut it. You need real time hours tracking so you can know with certainty how many hours someone has already worked in a given week, month, or other period. It’s the only way to be conscious of when someone is getting close to their overtime threshold.


3. Set up overtime alerts

Ideally you’ve got a scheduling tool that lets you comfortably audit and track active hours, but if it doesn’t also give you access to overtime alerts, you’re missing out on a key step of restricting overtime hours. Because you need to be able to automatically flag people coming up on (or exceeding) too many hours for the period.

Those three steps can help keep your budget in check. But they’re just a good start. Your scheduling tools need to be flexible, adaptive, and designed with your specific organizational requirements in mind.

Want to learn more about how the right technology can help your care facility? Watch our webinar on aligning finance and HR departments, featuring Janice Gerbrandt from Rehoboth.

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