NHS Safe Staffing – 6 Key Findings

nhs-Safe Staffing

In our last blog we discussed the increased pressures facing the NHS and how organisations such as NICE, are offering their guidance on achieving safe staffing in the NHS through technology and toolkits. Kronos hosted a series of ‘safe staffing’ workshops with NHS trust managers which offered some valuable insight into the challenges facing NHS trusts today. Of course each trust has quality patient care top of mind, but when it comes to achieving this, there are a number of operational issues they must overcome.

From the three workshops we hosted, the top operational challenges facing trusts at the moment are:

 

  1. Planning efficient rosters and robust ‘sign off’ of those rosters

After much discussion, it was evident that many of the trusts are still battling to successfully embed eRostering into the culture of the trusts. The effective implementation of any technology relies on senior management and CEOs. It requires their understanding and evangelising of the benefits of the solution to the whole team. Furthermore, making is clear how the solution will be used and enforce the processes rigidly.

A recent report from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed that 72% of staff reported that staff shortages occur frequently. A further 66% have also considered leaving the health service because of increased workloads and the stresses of the job. This makes it clear that action must be taken to keep the workers on the side of the NHS. When these workers feel stressed and overworked it can negatively impact the work they do and patient care they provide. Senior NHS management must therefore recognise the importance of technology in supporting safe staffing initiatives.

 

  1. Inefficient data collection

Inefficient data collection regarding the actual attendance of staffing is a serious issue for three reasons. The first is that the lack of real-time data capture of activity, means ward managers have an administrative overhead caused by retrospectively entering the data. The second is how manual data entry results in the data being more likely to be inaccurate. Lastly, the lack of real-time visibility from this data collection method means important staffing decisions are delayed, ultimately resulting in the quality of care being compromised.

These issues can be resolved if trusts implement time and attendance (T&A) solutions to record, using real-time data capture, the presence and availability of the nursing team.

 

  1. Alignment of the digital data held within trusts

Staff are currently using a range of different technologies in their day-to-day roles. They would like to see how all these technologies and devices could strategically ‘talk’ to one another where possible. This would improve the quality of data gathered because it could be cross referenced with the different measurements being made. It was good to see that, following concerns raised by NHS employees about staffing levels on more than 2,500 occasions in the last year, a government spokesperson said that a national framework for the “reporting of adverse events” will be rolled out. It’s crucial that we begin to see more consistency across trusts in terms of technology and reporting, in order to keep the service aligned and quality of care monitored effectively.

 

  1. High level visibility of actual staffing on shift by shift basis

The operational management of safe staffing was a heavily discussed area in our panels. The process for many trusts would entail a ‘breakfast staffing’ meeting at Matron-level each morning to go through the plan for the whole day.

The general consensus was that scenarios could still change throughout the day, and therefore, the morning meetings can be lengthy and costly in terms of time and efficient use of senior staffing. Systems such as Kronos OptiLink and T&A provide management of staff with the holistic visibility into the staffing on their wards and across the whole trust, freeing up time usually spent on morning planning meetings.

 

  1. Compliance and validity of acuity recording within trusts

It was found to be quite challenging to measure how effective the decision-making is of the nurse logging the acuity recordings. Without an investment of staff resource to either do the recording corporately or to scrutinise the data, there is no real way of measuring this.

Kronos OptiLink makes the capturing of acuity data simple and efficient, using tablet devices. Having acuity data on the tablet devices also helps with handovers between nurses, giving them the ability to review and discuss the recorded conditions of the patients easily.

 

  1. Commissioning

Trusts were keen on the idea of being able to consider detail at a commissioner level and how impactful this could be on future contracts being awarded to a trust and equally, investment in services. They saw the value in being able to articulate the service need more figuratively and identify trends, as well as how this could have a positive outcome.

For more information on Kronos for healthcare solutions visit www.kronos.co.uk/healthcare

 

Is Technophobia Preventing Your Business From Reaching Its Full Potential?

technophobiaDefinition of Technophobia from Wikipedia: ‘Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers. Although there are numerous interpretations of technophobia, they seem to become more complex as technology continues to evolve. The term is generally used in the sense of an irrational fear, but others contend fears are justified.’

Now, some of you will be sitting and nodding in agreement – ‘Yes, technology is a mystery to me and I don’t need it anyway! Whilst others are probably thinking ‘What on earth is the problem? Technology is fantastic! Where would we be without it? Bring it on!’  But, generally, people tend to sit somewhere between these two extremes… ‘I will use it at work because I have to or, I love it, can’t get enough of it, what is the next gadget I can get’

At work technology is commonplace – it could be an email solution, a solution for presenting financial information or documentation, or even a manufacturing process solution. At home you could be using your computer, phone or iPad for online shopping or banking. But if your organisation is resistant to technology – it could be wasting time, money and lagging behind more agile competitors.

Manual processes that, when automated, can improve productivity, ensure compliance and reduce labour costs could be something that your technophobic organisation may be avoiding, fearing it will be too complex and costly to implement; yet it could have the single most positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line and bring real competitive advantage. After all, when the right people are in the right place at the right time and productivity is being tracked and measured, the visibility and control it gives can only lead to better business decisions and improve profitability allowing you to free up capital to support other areas of your business strategy.

If you don’t wish to invest capital in a solution that will help you manage your people more effectively, you should consider a SaaS solution. Software as a Service enables organisations to invest in technology on a per employee per month basis – you use only what you need, you will achieve significant business benefits without upfront capital outlay and without waiting on your over-stretched IT resource to set up any required infrastructure as it is managed and hosted by the supplier. It will give you a technological advantage and agility that will allow you to compete with larger organisations by streamlining your workforce management operations. If, like many, you are concerned that your organisation is suffering from a little technophobia take a look at this useful guide: ‘Unlocking Your Workforce Potential’.

Zero Hours Contracts – Are We One Step Closer To A Truly Agile Workforce?

imagesCAHIW1UVI believe it can only be  good for UK business that zero hours contracts are being taken seriously and that the pressure on the Government to provide guidelines for employees and employers is growing. The CIPD report following a public consultation has concluded that change is required to ensure the flexibility that can be offered by zero hour contracts benefits both employers and employees.

Flexible working contracts have become increasingly important for many businesses; allowing them to become more agile and competitive and improving employee engagement by giving employees the total flexibility they may need to balance complex home and working lives. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I believe a major issue that needs to be addressed by many organisations is that of making zero hours and other flexible contract employees easier for managers to manage. The way to do this easily is by using workforce management technology that can automate some of the processes needed to track employee attendance and schedule employees according to both business requirements and employee preferences.

Below are the four main recommendations made by the CIPD:

  • The use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts preventing workers from working for another employer should be banned, with a narrow exemption for employers that can demonstrate a compelling business reason, for example, confidentiality or the protection of trade secrets.
  • CIPD recommends that staff on zero hours contracts should, after a minimum period of 12 months service with an employer, have the legal right to request a minimum number of hours per week.  Employers would have to respond positively to the request unless they had a business reason for turning it down.
  • The CIPD believes all workers should be legally entitled to a written copy of their terms and conditions not later than two months in employment (currently under the Employment Rights Act 1996 only employees are entitled to this). This would help provide greater clarity on behalf of both parties on the issue of employment status and the associated employment rights.
  • The CIPD would support the creation of a code of practice setting out for employers and zero hours workers some key principles and guidance on the responsible management of these types of working arrangements.

The full consultation can be downloaded here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/consultation-responses/zero-hours-contracts.aspx

The full report, ‘Zero hours contracts: Myths and reality’ is available to download here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/zero-hours-contracts-myth-reality.aspx

Women in the workforce – International Women’s Day

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

 This year Inspiring Change was theme for the internationalwomensday.com global hub, it encouraged advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

Kronos and Xplane created this video in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8th). This video provides  viewers with a light-hearted look at several interesting facts and statistics about the changes and developments that have impacted women in the workforce. By fully engaging women in the workforce and making sure they are treated fairly, organisations can ensure they are have an inspired and productive workforce, and everyone benefits.

Defining Stress in the Workplace

imagesCAUWCGLJBritain has the highest rate of people with mental health issues in the developed world claiming disability or out of work benefits a recent report has revealed. Georgia Graham, writing for the Daily Telegraph claims that British workers are among the most stressed in the world and employees unable to work because of mental health issues are costing the UK economy over £70 billion a year. The main cause of work-related mental health issues, according to the report, was unemployment and the inability to find work. This seems slightly at odds with the commonly held belief that overwork and the long hours culture in the UK is the main cause of stress and stress–related absence.

Burn-out of workers who are swamped by their workload is, of course, a problem as pointed out in the article by the BBC earlier this week about Welsh Ambulance Services. The article highlights the fact that almost three times as many staff are being signed off for stress as for a common cold or flu due to what employees feel is an excessive workload. However, I believe that employers should also be aware of the danger of under-employment of staff in the workplace which can also raise stress levels. Employees who feel undervalued and who are underemployed often fear the loss of their jobs and can feel stressed and anxious over a long period of time – increasing the risk of mental health problems.

Managers who are responsible for managing the workload of their team need to ensure they are able to spread workloads equitably and fairly and ensure employees are not compromising their mental health. Deploying the right people, with the right skills to cover the workload is vital. Whether it is an ambulance team trying to save lives and meet their targets, a retailer who needs to make sure there’s enough coverage to meet the demands of customers at any given time, or a manufacturer or distribution organisation that needs to ensure skilled workers are available to ensure production and delivery targets are met; having the right tools to plan and deploy staff to business demands and track and monitor, attendance, productivity and compliance will help managers support their staff and meet those organisational objectives.

Download the Forgotten Workforce Report

Download CIPD Absence Report 2013

Zero Hours Contract Debate Rumbles On

ZeroIt looks like the zero hours contract debate will be rumbling on in 2014 according to the Chief Executive of ACAS. In an article published in HR Magazine this month, Anne Sharp welcomes the Government’s decision to institute a 12-week consultation to produce guidelines for employers and employees to help clear up confusion. As ACAS have seen an increasing number of enquiries from employees concerned with changes in their terms of contracts this can only be a good thing. Zero hours can offer flexibility to both employers and employees but with a second reading due in the House of Commons of a Private Members Bill seeking to prohibit zero hours contracts – it is clear that some strong guidelines to protect employees and inform employers are necessary if they are to remain a part of the flexible working toolkit available to maintain the agile workforce required to support economic growth.

The key to ensuring fairness in the workplace is by being able to track and monitor zero hours workers time and attendance and put in place processes and rules that will show employers and employees are getting the best out of this kind of working practice.

I have always maintained that businesses need to be as agile as possible, however a mix of full-time, part-time and the highly flexible zero-hours contract workers are essential to retain talent and ensure business objectives are met. If you want to keep abreast of the zero hours debate you can find out more by visiting the ACAS or the Government websites:

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4468

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/zero-hours-employment-contracts

New Survey Finds 85% Experienced An Increase In Productivity Due To Flexible Working

I wonder how many of you got a chance to review the recent online survey carried out by BakkerElkhuizen among HR professionals in Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands on the theme ‘Flexible Working’.  What made it particularly interesting to me was that UK came out top of the table when it came to organisations that had already implemented flexible working.  

Table1

 

Here are some of the findings I found particularly noteworthy:

The motivation for organisations to implement flexible working: The survey found that in the UK, 85% of HR professionals saw a rise in productivity and generally in the UK, Germany and Belgium, the main argument for flexible working was “higher staff satisfaction”, the exception was in the Netherlands where cost-savings on buildings and workstations was more compelling.

 The top 3 most important reasons why flexible working has not yet been implemented:

  • Companies are still looking into the possibilities of flexible working
  • Staff are tied to a fixed place and time because of their specific duties
  • The organisation feels that the presence of staff is necessary.

The main reason given not to implement flexible working: When an organisation did not see any advantages in flexible working, they gave the reason that it is not possible for all staff to work at varying times and/or places and that they wish to treat all staff equally. At most organisations flexible working is not possible across all members of the workforce.

Infrastructure and support for flexible working: Unsurprisingly, ICT infrastructure was seen as the most essential tool for flexible working by half of the respondents in England, the Netherlands and Belgium.

My organisation does have the infrastructure available to manage a remote workforce and experience has shown that it is an important requirement is for flexible workers to have all the information and security they would find in an office environment available at home or on the move. Also important is the ability to track and monitor employee productivity and hours worked and a modern workforce management solution makes this much easier.

You can download the full survey report here and why not take a look at this free white paper: Reaping the Rewards Of Flexible Working to learn more about flexible working.