COVID-19 creates new staffing hurdles for ASCs: 4 ways to overcome them

Angie Stewart - Print  |

ASCs are facing a variety of staffing-related challenges due to COVID-19.

Top challenges at this point in the pandemic include determining when to bring back furloughed staff as COVID-19 case numbers rise; identifying who is likely to return to work; and recruiting top talent to replace any workers who move on to other opportunities, according to Talentcare Executive Vice President Elle Evans Aldridge and Henry Schein Medical Senior Director of ASCs Scott Jackson. Talentcare helps organizations communicate with, attract and retain talent as part of Henry Schein Medical's SolutionsHub.

Ms. Aldridge and Mr. Jackson outlined four ways ASCs can meet present staffing challenges head on:

1. Communicate regularly. Explain the steps you're taking to protect staff, and keep furloughed workers informed via email or text about any risks, regulations and closures affecting the center's ability to recruit them back, Ms. Aldridge said. To inspire loyalty, ASCs can invite furloughed teams to virtual town halls where they can ask burning questions.

2. Incorporate flexibility. ASCs should consider having team members "float among locations, take on new tasks or simply work part time until full-time options become available," according to Ms. Aldridge. When asking employees to take on new responsibilities, centers should formally screen candidates and be transparent about additional requirements.

3. Minimize expenses. Staffing can represent 40 percent of an ASC's budget, so centers should invest in strategies that reduce turnover and eliminate temporary staffing needs, according to Ms. Aldridge.

"The elevated cost of temporary labor does not get the best return on investment," she said. "It is essential to deliver well on your brand promise as we come out of this downturn, and temps generally do not have as close a pulse on that culture as our own staff would. Also, at a time when you must let go of internal teams, it can send the wrong message to those you really want to rejoin your organization when the time is right."

4. Recruit strategically. Hiring managers should leverage data to improve recruitment and selection processes, according to Ms. Aldridge. Predictive analytics assessments in particular can be useful for identifying candidates who are a good match for the position and organizational culture.

ASCs can also attract the right applicants by maintaining an authentic employer brand and offering competitive pay for providers likely to be in high demand, such as registered nurses and technicians. For ASCs planning to introduce orthopedic, spine or cardiology services, recruiting nurses and clinicians with experience in those specialties is key, Mr. Jackson said.

Want to share your thoughts on this topic? Email Angie Stewart: astewart@beckershealthcare.com.

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