Refining your facility’s nurse staffing policies can have a resounding positive effect. With strategic staffing policies you have the benefit of happier nurses (less burnout and turnover!) and as a result the ability to achieve a healthier financial bottom line. A big trend in business is companies establishing better use of their resources, something the healthcare industry can greatly benefit from as well.
A recent article, “Revamp Nurse Staffing Policies and Cut Costs,” published at Health Leaders Media, discusses some of the key benefits of re-evaluating your nurse staffing policies and also details some of the helpful changes put into place by the WellStar Health System, which is based in Marietta, Georgia.
The crux of the changes made at WellStar had to do with making sure nurses were working their full set of hours but not regularly exceeding them. Some nurses were cutting shifts short and others were routinely working too many hours. An hour shaved off of a shift here and there can really eat into costs as well as throw the rest of the staff’s rhythm. And on the other hand, of course, nurses working too much overtime can lead directly to burnout. In the words of Goldilocks, they wanted the hours to be juuuuust right — no more, no less. Achieving this balance is instrumental to staff satisfaction.
As discussed in the article, many facilities have begun using scheduling software, which allows administrators to drill down and really get a clear picture of their staffing realities, in order to determine strong and weak areas, what’s working, what’s not, and most importantly why. Once that’s clear, streamlining policies, standardizing shift times, and holding staff accountable can have a big impact when it comes to cutting costs. Communicating any changes in nurse staffing policies to your staff in a direct and positive way is key to making the changes stick and achieving your objective of a happy, efficient, cost-effective workforce.