Senior Care Staffing Shortage
The staffing crisis has become a significant driver behind the wholesale re-evaluation of the senior care employee work experience. Operators and the c-suite are looking at everything, from wages to benefits to the work environment itself. Everything is on the table, as it should be.
But there is something that operators have way more control over than they think: workflow.
Workflow, when rough and disorganized, adds hours upon hours of employee time, much of it wasted on tedious tasks that take time and open the door for errors and omissions. When tightly coordinated and smooth, however, a workflow can give employees back valuable time and peace-of-mind that they aren't going to forget something. A good workflow raises efficiency & raises morale.
And, what’s great about this is that you can control the workflow of your various processes. You can even go one better: You can automate them. What does that achieve?
- It saves time for valuable staff
- It eliminates unnecessary redundancies
- It increases accuracy of processes
Tasks may be redundant. Your employees are not.
Tedious & redundant workflows cause constant friction for your staff and waste valuable time, but many operators feel overwhelmed by the thought of overhauling their process and even worry that it will upset their valuable staff even more.
But think of the message this sends to your valuable workforce…
- Your organization is out of date.
- You don’t care enough to automate processes.
- You don’t value their time.
All of that adds up to
“I don’t feel supported by my employer.”
The best workflow automation is that which frees up your employees to contribute high value to your team. It is important to remember that, while tasks may be redundant, people are not. By automating you are sending them a message that you honor their value and want to use their talents in ways that raise the level of care in your community and help them grow.
With a better workflow, your employees feel supported
- They’re happier because they don't have to work overtime and can make it home to have dinner with their family
- They feel confident in their jobs because they have a structured process
- & managers feel great because they no longer micro manage to ensure things don't get missed
And remember, a better workflow and time-saving automations make your organization much more attractive to work for as they move from outdated operators. Others actually EXPECT these automations as they move from organizations that already have them in place.
The bottom line is that your employees will begin to expect your organization to invest in a smooth and efficient workflow.
Does Technology fix everything?
Before you bring in automation technology, you need to make sure that the problem can be solved with the technology. One of the biggest mistakes a community can make is to throw technology at a process and hope it miraculously fixes not only the process, but every issue surrounding it. You’d be surprised at how many operators do this. Then, when they end up with a bigger mess than they started with, they blame the technology or, worse yet, the employees using it.
Don't automate your dysfunction and don't automate a process that shouldn't exist, to begin with.
How you can prepare for workflow automation
The most time consuming part of automating a set of processes is the preliminary organization needed to make sure you are automating the right things, in the right order and that you’re using a platform that shares information with key stakeholders.
The best way to achieve this is through an internal audit. For each process, ask yourself and team:
- Use the 5 Why’s technique (look for a future article on this)
- Do we have the data to identify bottlenecks in our workflow?
- Are we wasting time entering the same data into multiple systems?
- Are we duplicating steps between departments that can be eliminated?
- Is there valuable information locked away in employees’ heads?
- Are there silos of knowledge in our teams?
- If our key staff left today, could we quickly train someone to pick up easily where they left off?
- How will the handoff between our admissions team and the rest of the staff occur?
Once you decide on the process/processes that will benefit most from automation, you need to document them. Here are three key steps to take:
- Follow & document your entire workflow. Identify each process from the start, through every department it touches.
- Identify any steps in your process that are repetitive and/or redundant (entering the same data into more than one system or form, cross-referencing information to make a decision, etc.).
- Identify data that can be used to make critical business decisions
- Capture tribal knowledge. Are any of your processes only in the heads of your core employees? Get it all out on paper, step by step.
There are times to wait out a storm and there are times to take control of it. This is the time to take control. To be competitive, senior care operators need to not only attract new hires, but hang on to them. Automation is something you can do to give your valuable employees with more face time and less time engaging in tedious, time-consuming work that takes them away from it.
You can do this.
LincWare is a workflow problem-solving company with a mission to help remove the obstacles that keep you and your senior care teams from spending time on the work that really matters.