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

 

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Five Alternative Ways To Reduce Staff Turnover – And Save Money

VacancyMany of you will be aware of the headlines this week about the recent rise in staff turnover. It would seem that businesses are now paying the price for the long period of time that employees, fearful of losing their jobs, have put up with wage restraints, lack of bonuses and some pretty tough management decisions that have been made during the economic downturn.

According to research it costs on average around £30,000 to replace a member of your staff that leaves. This figure includes the cost of employing a new member of staff and lost productivity whilst bringing your new employee up to speed in their role. That’s a big expenditure and if turnover suddenly accelerates, your organisation can find itself  in a very tight corner operationally and financially. So your organisation needs to make sure it retain’s key talent and keeps employees motivated and productive. And remember that retaining great employees isn’t always about hiking pay.

Here are 5 alternative ways that can help keep staff engaged, motivated and productive:

  • Create connections through self-service

As more people perform day-to-day activities such as shopping, reading the news, paying bills, and socialising with friends online, they want the same flexibility and instant access to up-to-date information on the job. For example, why would an employee prefer to wait days for the busy HR department to process a handwritten leave request, when he or she can submit it online in seconds using self-service? As more employees leverage self-service technology in their personal lives, they are increasingly willing to adopt it in the workplace too.

  • Let employees participate in the scheduling process

Scheduling automation also helps organisations find last-minute replacements so they can meet demand. When an employee calls in sick, some scheduling systems can automatically recommend replacement workers, prioritising them by wage, seniority, skills, or other company-defined criteria. Some scheduling systems can even notify qualified replacements via email, text, or a manager call list to speed the process and further minimise impact on production and fellow employees.

  • Empower employees to take ownership of performance

Workforce management systems can help your organisation gain control over processes such as compensation cycles and performance reviews by automatically letting managers know when preliminary budgets and employee evaluations are due. Automated alerts help organisations keep their compensation planning and performance review processes on schedule, so employees receive feedback and rewards in a timely manner

  • Foster career development and professional growth

Workforce management systems can also help organisations track employee certifications and licenses — automatically notifying managers when those critical qualifications are about to expire — to minimise compliance risk and maximise workforce safety.

  • Increase employee engagement — and the bottom line

Workforce management technology can help organisations increase employee engagement. By providing employee self-service applications and automating processes such as time and attendance tracking, scheduling, human resources, and labour analytics, organisations can empower employees to take a more active role in HR and scheduling activities, take advantage of training and professional development opportunities, and get the continuous feedback on performance required to motivate and encourage innovation. For organisations looking to control costs and increase productivity, increasing employee engagement through the effective use of workforce management technology may be the answer.

Find out more and download the full white paper ‘Employee Engagement as a Competitive Differentiator’

A Lighter Look at Customer Dissatisfaction

One way to improve customer service is to make sure enough staff are available to serve your customers… I am sure we have all been in this situation? By scheduling staff accurately and using  data analytics to forecast demand – you will take one step closer to making your customers very happy!

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Is Technology The Only Differentiator In The Workplace Of The Future?

millennialsOne of the topics that currently fascinates me is the generational changes that are forecast in the workplace.  Jon Andrews a partner at PwC and head of its HR Consulting practice in the UK, recently contributed an article in HR Review in which he states that by 2020, millennials (people born between 1980 and 1995) will represent more than half of the working population in the UK and one of the major differentiators between millennials and previous generations is their use and knowledge of technology. He believes that, for the first time, older people will be turning to younger people to learn from them in the business world.

However, he goes on to say that it is not only technology that differentiates this younger generation – millennials also expect rapid career progression, a varied, interesting career and plenty of feedback, and research has backed this up, showing that the millennial generation place higher priority on workplace flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments over financial rewards, when compared with other generations.

And apparently it isn’t just younger workers reshaping the workplace. In the UK, where there is no default retirement age and a phasing out of final salary pension schemes is in progress, the older generation will be extending their working life and it won’t be unusual to see a 17 year old and a 70 year old on the same team; presenting real challenges for managers and HR. Understanding inter-generational and individual differences and, in particular, what motivates people will become increasingly important and organisations will have to respond to an individual’s needs in order to get the best from them.

It seems, in the face of these changes in the workplace, if  employers want to get the best from their employees, they will have no alternative but to offer more flexibility and choice in working practices and opportunities. The more organisations can personalise value propositions for each employee in terms of what matters to that individual, the easier it will be to keep them engaged so they can retain and motivate their employees.

With more flexible working practices for individuals – it will become crucial for employers to have an accurate record of hours worked and the ability to schedule employees in the most cost effective and productive way possible. Technology will play an important part in this revolution and I am happy to say that the technology already exists. I believe it will be crucial for both small and big businesses to take advantage of the latest Human Capital Management technology if they wish to keep up with the changing face of the workforce.

As both a manager and an employee, this topic will be something I will continue to follow with interest and if you have any stories to share or want to comment on any of the issues – I would be interested to hear from you. What kind of flexibility would you like to see personally? Do you believe that inter-generational tension will become an issue? What steps has your organisation taken or is planning to become a more flexible employee?

Are You Feeling SAD? – Nearly 10 Million Work Days Lost Due To ‘Winter Blues’

SAD EmployeeAccording to a report by Epson, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) could affect almost 20% of office workers. And it appears employers are hit with a double whammy – not only do they have to suffer the cost to the business of employee absence  but employee motivation can plummet too leading to lower productivity amongst those staff who do make it into work. The results of the survey highlighted the ways in which the winter months impact UK office workers, with almost half of workers rarely or never seeing sunlight on the way to work during the winter months which can cause depression, low energy levels and fatigue. Add to this the usual winter flu’ bugs and other viruses that are prevalent at this time of the year and the cost of labour to businesses is at its highest.

How do you know when an employee is suffering from SAD? If you monitor and track employee absence with a workforce management solution it would be easy to identify employees who tend to have sick days at this time of the year and managers may notice a drop in productivity and engagement at work. The ‘winter blues’ may well be more serious than just feeling a bit low; it is possible that the immune system of sufferers can be compromised. But the good news is that there are things that can be done to help affected employees.  Here are 3 simple solutions that you may like to consider:

  1.  Improve lighting and perhaps supply special daylight lamps for employees who suffer from the disorder to use at work
  2. Make workspaces brighter and more colourful and introduce creative visuals into the workplace
  3. Encourage staff to get out into the fresh air at lunch and break- times  to make better use of daylight and any winter sun that may be around perhaps starting a ‘winter-walking’ group

So if the cost of absence makes you a little SAD and you want to promote health and well-being in the office this winter, why not try introducing these simple measures and see what happens?

Manage Your Staff Well And Prevent Those Christmas Blues

Christmas BluesFor many people this is the final day of work till the New Year. Others like care workers, policemen and hospital workers will be working over the whole of the festive period. Working unsociable hours can be crucial in order to boost many people’s income and they welcome the extra money in their pay packet. For some employees, however, working unsociable hours and missing out on time with their family can lead to serious issues with their engagement and productivity. Often there is no easy solution to this thorny problem and bosses have no choice but to schedule employees to work and for many employees it is part of their contract of employment.

Of course it isn’t only during the holiday season that employers find it difficult to balance employee wishes and business goals, any periods when customer demand increases can cause issues with staff scheduling.  However, there are steps businesses can take to ensure that they minimise employee disengagement and gain tighter control of overtime costs

Managers can minimise the impact on employees and their bottom line if they are able to track and schedule their employees fairly and accurately. Controlling overtime payments and absence by scheduling those people who have spare hours available and are happy to work is a lot easier if they have the processes and technology to automatically manage employees. Making self-service shift preferences available and keeping an eye on absence levels can help managers monitor employee engagement and make informed decisions around scheduling.

You can find out more about employee engagement and how important it is to your business take a look at this white paper ‘Employee Engagement As A Competitive Differentiator’

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