The staffing decisions healthcare organizations make throughout the holiday season have an impact on the entire fiscal year. The combination of low volumes, high vacation usage, and increased premium expenses have the potential to create large labor variances. Oftentimes, variances are blamed on high non-productive hours but that is not the sole reason. The real culprit may be the unnecessary backfilling of staff who utilize PTO.
During holiday periods, the high non-productive hours can act as a “productivity lift” as you don’t have to replace the “fixed” positions within the department. To combat this potential problem, we suggest the “Holiday Diet”. The ultimate goal is to meet and/or exceed the Worked Hours Per Unit of Service (WHPUOS) target while minimizing the damage to the Cost per Unit of Service. Ideally, the non-productive percentage should increase to mirror the volume percentage decrease.
The following are some key levers to pull during the holidays:
- Look at projected volumes within each department and appropriately schedule staff, avoiding unnecessary productive hours and holiday pay.
- Assess and create a schedule to arrive at budgeted fixed FTEs.
- Assess staff flexibility. Use this “Pecking Order” to reduce or flex according to volume:
- Agency (2 x Rate)
- Overtime (1.5 x Rate)
- Premium Codes (Bonus Pay)
- Per Diem / PRN
- Worked FTEs Over Hire Basis (not overtime, rather over their hire status)
- Regular Hours Flexing
- Creative Strategies with Fixed Positions and requested time off
- Mandate a certain amount of time off for fixed departments.
- Potentially consolidate inpatient units to account for reduced volume.
Following the “Holiday Diet” approach can provide tangible results to your healthcare organization’s bottom line.
Impact Advisors offers data-driven solutions that deliver patient-focused staffing, capture efficiencies, and enable you to better source, engage, retain and manage teams.
Contributors: Betsie Sassen, R.N., M.S.N, Maggie Mahowald