The ‘Agency Crutch’

The ‘Agency Crutch’ is very real and if you don’t act now, you will dig yourself in to an unescapable pit, it’s easy to say well we don’t have anyone scheduled let’s just call agency. While most operators will say it’s impossible to be agency free during this ongoing staffing crisis with so many staff members having left the field during the pandemic, and staffing being at a the lowest that it’s been in 15 years.  

I will tell you it is doable, and I have done it myself and haven’t used agency since early 2019.

There are several key components to going agency free that with all of them combined will lead you to your goal of no longer depending on agency staffing. 

We must start looking at Staffing in an entirely new light, just as we have marketers that are focused on building census and bring in new busines. We need to shift to that approach with hiring as well. Having an aggressive Hiring & Staffing team is critical today, in some ways today they really need to be more aggressive than the marketing team. Having them going out and marketing your facility to the community, schools as well as other areas that staff can be found. We had our team, market all the Starbucks coffee shops, Fast food restaurants during lunch time, malls, shopping centers, Nursing & CNA schools to mention just a few and hanging out our literature in those establishments to gain greater exposer for our facility’s staffing needs.

One critical move we made was partnering with local Nursing & CNA schools, as well as high schools that offer CNA training programs. By partnering with these schools, it allowed them to come to our facility and do there clinicals, giving us a direct audience with the students. Which we wined and dinned them while they were with us, buying them lunch giving each student a swag bag to remind them of us, as well as performing on site interviews and being able to hire them on the spot.

Being posted on all the job boards, also local college job board sites, as well as aggressive advertising on social media. Social media is a great platform for advertising your facility, but more importantly it shows the workforce the culture of your facility and all the wonderful ways that you show your appreciation to your current staff, and how they appreciate you. With so many options for every candidate to pick from they want to find the best facility for themselves to work at which they will not only enjoy their work but will enjoy coming to work and their facility. 

When it comes to the culture of the facility, it is most important to make it a warm and inviting environment where staff look forward to working at. You are allowed to have fun at work, there are so many holidays and National Days… to celebrate with the staff, be penny wise and not pound foolish, the cost of celebrating and show appreciation of your staff is an investment that will payoff many times over. We have made parties and celebrations for every holiday and many National Days; we instituted a monthly employee appreciation lunch, we have caught you doing something nice gift cards that we give out.

Employee retention and satisfaction is a key factor in being agency free as well, get to know your staff there likes their dislikes, there availabilities once you know them well, they will realize that you care about them and are listening to them. If you know your staff well, you will know the days they may pick up a shift or stay over for you and the days they absolutely aren’t available. This helps you and them, you aren’t asking them for shifts they can’t pick up and they don’t feel as though you are constantly asking them to do what the can’t. The last thing you want is staff burn out, it’s a tight balance between the facility and staff needs, that always needs to be treaded lightly. 

We all want to avoid overtime, but we must keep in mind what the alternative is, with the price gauging in the Agency market today, the same staff could cost you double or triple the price of your own staff. So, you need to look at the bigger picture and understand that by giving a staff member overtime you are doing two things saving money versus agency and putting more money in your employee’s pocket which they always appreciate. Additionally pickup bonuses are a very helpful piece of the equation, it ends up being money well spent and the employee values it.             

Additionally, we have offered our current staff referral bonuses, what better way to market your facility then a staff member recommending it to their friends. Sign on Bonuses, Benefits and competitive wages are a given, with everyone out there looking new candidates are looking at a lot of your competitors and know exactly what they are offering as well. It is extremally important that your hiring team is staying on top of the marketing and making sure you are competitive. 

Hold your hiring team accountable the same way that you would for your Sales & Marketing department. Have weekly or even daily progress meetings where they highlight what they have done, and the results of their efforts are monitored. 

As slim as the staffing pool is there are still people out there looking to join or rejoin the healthcare field. 

#AgencyCrutch #staffingcrisis #employeeappreciation #employeerelations #skillednursing #erezbaver

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