Archive December 2018 XIX, No. 12

Staffing: 8 Scheduling Tips to Make Staffing Easier

Late differentials, staggered start times and other creative solutions.

Leslie Mattson

Leslie Mattson, RN, BSHM


ANY IDEAS? Your team could have out-of-the-box solutions to scheduling challenges that you might not have considered.

Staffing has always been one of the biggest challenges in surgical leadership. Even with the best plan in place, Murphy’s Law prevails. Someone tends to call out on the one day when you’re super busy and that one case that had to get done to use the same staff on an afternoon case runs over. Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years that could help.

1Late days. For those unexpected late days when cases run over their scheduled times, or that late add-on case, you may want to assign routine late days. I once ran a center when, on busy winter days, we might have several rooms running over. The way we kept it as fair as possible was assigning all staff one first late and one second late day per week. (We even let the staff choose which days, as long as we had the schedule covered.) If they wanted to switch with a team member, they could do so as long as they notified the appropriate manager. Assigning lates in advance is way easier than begging people to stay over.

2Late differential. Because our days would often routinely run over in the busy winter months, we asked the governing body to approve differential pay. We applied the $2-per-hour differential after 4 p.m. for any OR staff still working, and after 5 p.m. for the PACU team. The differential, as much a financial incentive as it was an acknowledgment for the extra time, went a long way with the team. It definitely had a positive impact on morale and made late days more bearable and financially rewarding.

3Staggered start times. Some staff would prefer to come in early, and some staff would love the time to get the kids on the bus. You might be able to flex time in and out based on volume, role, and patient arrival and discharge times. On busy days, you can even use PRN staff that want to be home for kids as a prime-time float team to cover breaks and lunches. Keep in in mind that staggering only works if you live in an area without significant rush-hour traffic problems.

4PRN float pool incentives. Some facilities pay more for better availability. Consider offering more pay to PRN staff who agree to work more and for holiday time coverage when staffing can get really challenging.

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