flex time, jobs with flexible hours, work schedule flexibility

How To Prepare Staff For Maximizing Flex Time In Healthcare


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One of the repercussions of COVID-19 was to show that current technology makes working from home possible and, in some cases, preferable. When a healthcare facility offers flex time to maximize the job satisfaction of current staff members, problems associated with understaffing can be reduced. You can mitigate the added stressors of hiring, training, and monitoring a new workforce by offering flexible work schedules. If managers choose to offer flexible work hours to existing staff, they will benefit by educating and involving their employees and then choosing a model that meets identified needs.

The Challenges of Modern Healthcare Staffing

Much like staff members in other industries, healthcare staff members who are stressed manifest several behaviors that predictably lead to low productivity, including but not limited to absenteeism and presenteeism. Absenteeism is defined as when employees habitually do not come to work. Presenteeism is defined as employees who habitually come to work when they shouldn’t, such as when they are ill, when there is a family crisis, or they feel pressured to work overly long hours. 

Without work schedule flexibility, these other problems can arise:

  • A poor work-life balance 
  • Short shift change notices
  • No scheduling flexibility, mainly at the expense of personal lives
  • Possible burnout due to overworking or poor scheduling 
  • Low levels of engagement

Challenges for Healthcare Managers

Without work schedule flexibility, a facility manager could experience:

  • Lack of staff for shift coverage
  • Low levels of patient care
  • Shift overlaps
  • Manual scheduling that’s prone to errors
  • High employee turnover (low retention rate)
  • Difficulties recruiting talented staff
  • Difficulties balancing business and employee needs

A flexible work strategy can avoid or mitigate these challenges by finding a flex-time model that fits your office, staff, and patient needs. 

Preparing Your Staff for a Flexible Workplace

Eliminating antiquated scheduling practices is the first goal, but that isn’t always easy. The first step is to bring your employees in the loop from the start. Below are some considerations for healthcare managers who wish to design the type of flexible work strategy that will optimally benefit both staff and the clinic:

Explain the Benefits of Flex Time

Some employees are early adopters and welcome change. Others can be resistant to change. Resistance can be as simple as distrusting management or an unwillingness to adapt to a new working environment. A first step can be to explain the benefits of flex time. It can be essential to show that employers and managers care about employees’ mental health and well-being, particularly in stressful times. A management team can go a long way if it consistently demonstrates a willingness to implement management and policy changes to make employees’ lives easier. It may be helpful, for instance, to share the findings of the 2021 Gartner Digital Worker Experience Survey, which concluded that the biggest reason for a boost in productivity was work schedule flexibility (43% of respondents). Presenting such educational data can also help explain why these changes will benefit the entire organization and how they would be helpful to patients.

Identify the Right Flex Time

The next step toward better scheduling practices is identifying needed areas of improvement. Which type of flexible schedule will work best for your facility? Some possibilities may include:

  • Location flexibility
  • Shift flexibility (shift working)
  • Work hours flexibility (flex time)
  • Compressed work weeks
  • Hybrid flexible models

Of course, remote work might not be an option for some medical staff. Still, it could be suitable for administration, human resource departments or healthcare follow-up visits, and behavioral health. The type of flexibility you choose will depend on the nature of your facility. If you’re operating a 24/7 emergency room, look into allowing some flexibility in the shift schedule. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in the case of flexibility in healthcare where requirements can change from one setting to another concerning working hours, needed staff coverage, patient needs, and more.

A Habit of Conducting Surveys

Professional hierarchies, workplace structure, and professional etiquette can often make it hard for employees and team members to share their true thoughts on a topic with their superiors. That is why you want to give them the ability to voice their opinions. It’s not only important for employees to feel heard. Getting their feedback can help you determine where they stand in a given situation and whether your new practices meet your goals.

Keep employee surveys anonymous. Leave open fields in the survey for employees to provide additional options and information. Then call a meeting to discuss the results and findings and your first draft of an implementation plan to address their concerns. You might also want to discuss their views of your proposed plan in the meeting. 

Gather Continuous Feedback

It might be best to conduct more than one survey – the first one to assess employee needs and the second to see whether the changes are being received well after your above-described initial draft discussion. Transparency and two-way communication are crucial in having your staff adapt to a flexible work schedule quickly and efficiently. Continuous feedback will help you take timely steps to correct policies that can cause problems in the workplace, ones that would otherwise be much harder to solve.

You can continue asking for feedback with monthly or bi-monthly polls to your staff, asking them to provide their honest feedback. You can ask questions to elicit responses to stay on top of as-yet-undetected issues. Your staff may be dealing with patients, their families, other staff members, and their manager(s) daily. They can help you isolate the inefficiencies and suggest what and how to improve. Include as many aspects of business operations or patient care as relevant. You are likely to gain priceless insight.

Use Technology

Practice managers must decide on internal and external communication tools, document storage, and employee scheduling. Automate your healthcare processes to enable your remote or shift workers to work in a cohesive, integrated manner. Implementing scheduling software is the best way to avoid shift overlaps and find last-minute shift replacements.

An automated scheduling tool can help you gather a talent pool of on-call staff when your facility experiences a shortage. Using effective healthcare scheduling software can also set clear targets to measure staff and program success. See 13 Best Employee Scheduling Software for Small Businesses for more information.

How to Measure Success 

A few things can measure whether a new technique or software gives you the desired results. Here are some metrics for change effectiveness that can help: 

  • A decrease or increase in absences 
  • Change in employee performance and efficiency levels 
  • Customer or patient satisfaction 
  • Change in employee turnover 
  • Employee surveys and change in their opinion 
  • A shift in work culture

Some of these metrics are easier to track than others, but they typically indicate whether your new work schedule flexibility systems are effective. Another important thing to keep in mind is to quantify your goals. Instead of “reducing absences,” set a more precise target like “reducing absences by 20% in the next three months”.

Staff Education & Training About Jobs with Flexible Hours

New policies and procedures can only be utilized to their full potential when people are willing to use them properly. Change management becomes easier when your employees understand what’s happening and are involved in supporting your efforts. To help your staff navigate your flex-time scheduling changes, you may want to consider providing the right tools and resources from which they can learn. Problems typically arise when technology is introduced to the workplace, such as customer relationship software (CRM). When using any new technology, your staff may need to know:

  • Which type of flexible work is allowed for which job profiles (medical vs. non-medical staff)
  • What essential hours need to be covered
  • How to use all the tools needed in their daily work
  • What are their expected KPIs 
  • Shifts changes promptly in advance

To Sum Up

Keep the big picture in mind when you implement better flex-time scheduling in your workplace. Offering jobs with flexible hours can make it easier for your employees to increase productivity and job satisfaction. An approach that worked for another organization – a new policy, a specific set of rules, or some new software – isn’t guaranteed to give you the same results due to differing office cultures, local norms, and individual or team attitudes. If your goal is to grow your practice through implementing a flex-time strategy, you will increase your chance of success by educating your staff, tapping into their views of needed scheduling changes with discussions based on continuous surveys, and offering work schedule flexibility.

Rob Press

About the Author

Rob Press is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can manage your workforce in various industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.

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