6 Ways for Surgery Centers to Adopt & Benefit From Flexible Employee Schedules

Flexible surgery centers can adapt to meet the changing needs of patients, surgeons and staff members. They can also become more efficient to maximize profits and minimize overhead costs.

Donna Coleman is the human resources payroll services manager for MedHQ, a professional employer organization and business office outsourcing service for healthcare, ASCs, surgical hospitals, imaging centers and other physician-affiliated businesses.

Ms. Coleman discusses how to develop flexible schedules for employees and the benefits of doing so.

How to become more flexible

1. Focus on per diem workers. The greatest amount of staffing flexibility for ASCs comes from per diem workers, Ms. Coleman says. While your nursing and business directors will be full time, other staff members are usually not needed for as many hours per week. These per diem workers can be on call throughout the week to come in as necessary, ensuring your ASC is never left shorthanded.

Per diem workers can also be scheduled for different hours each week, depending on the cases brought into the center that week and the number of personnel needed to keep the center properly staffed.

"The flexibility could be in how many hours per day they work of it could be the start and stop time of those hours," Ms. Coleman says.

2. Keep your center open only for cases. Have flexible employees also creates a cost-conscious environment for ASCs to shut down when all the cases are done for a day or to scheduled cases only on certain days of the week and remain closed the rest, Ms. Coleman says.

Having the surgery center only open when procedures are being performed can save a significant amount of money on staffing costs and overhead costs, including utilities.

3. Offer paid and unpaid time off options. Flexible schedules for staff members should include both paid and unpaid options, as well as time off for reasons other than vacation or sick days. Giving per diem employees even limited paid time off options builds employee loyalty and can make up for the days when staff members are sent home early without pay for scheduling compression.

Flexible companies also allow employees to alter their schedules in advance for appointments, family obligations and other personal reasons without penalty, Ms. Coleman says.

Why allow for staff flexibility staff?

4. Increases morale. Creating an environment of scheduling flexibility will produce happier employees, who in turn become more productive, Ms. Coleman says. High employee morale also seeps into the overall atmosphere of the surgery center, including how the patients and surgeons view the ASC.

Varied schedules also keep employees from getting stuck in the routine of their positions, and thus less likely to make on-the-job mistakes.

5. Reduces absenteeism and turnover. When a surgery center can accommodate the scheduling needs and wants of employees, the center is more likely to have employees that show up for shifts on time and retain their positions longer. Less absenteeism and tardiness will help the operating room schedule stay on time, which also makes patients and surgeons happy.

Also, if your ASC can retain employees longer, then you will have to invest fewer dollars and hours in recruiting and training new employees. Instead, your center’s financial professional focus can be on patient care and optimal business operations.

6. Allows employees to have other jobs. Most per diem workers have employment at other locations, such as hospitals or clinics, Ms. Coleman says. They seek surgery center employment for additional income. Working around any current job schedules enables your center to hire a capable employee who may have been unable to accept the position with a rigid weekly schedule.

More Articles on Improving Profits:
5 Initiatives for a Better Patient & Physician ASC Experience
8 Top Drivers of Physician Satisfaction
15 Statistics on Medium-Size ASC Revenue

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