Happy Staff, Happier Residents: The Power of Workforce Management

June 29, 2020

Everyone who has visited a senior care community knows a well-run facility with an engaged staff and happy residents go hand in hand. After all, the happier your staff is, the more they will focus on your residents’ happiness.

You can help by empowering employees with the ability to better manage competing priorities and reduce frustration. Company culture and happy employees Go Hand in Hand.

When employees don't have to juggle time-consuming administrative tasks, like manually tracking and fixing their employee schedule and attendance logs, they can focus their full attention on what's most important: the safety, security, and happiness of your residents.  

The growing demand for senior care 

According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans over 65 will double to 95 million by 2060. As a result,  the demand long-term care, senior living options, and continuing care retirement communities will soar.

To compete effectively, senior living facilities must pursue new ways to promote resident and staff happiness. Fortunately, workforce management systems can help by alleviating common frustrations senior care workers face and the negative emotions they spread.

You know workforce management systems play a key role in caring for residents by optimizing staffing functions, like employee scheduling, attendance, and organizational compliance. Like all software, there are good workforce management systems and better ones.

Good systems help facilities assign the proper personnel, track attendance, and ensure hours/wages are accurate. High-quality workforce management systems also help staff navigate ever-increasing operational demands and balance work-life responsibilities in a way that supports their busy lives.

To truly thrive, senior living and long-term care providers must be:

  • Be proactive and forward thinking about residents needs and wants
  • Deploy innovative strategies to address potential issues before they happen and respond quickly to problem
  • Adapt quickly to changing situations

Getting the right strategy in place

Management strategy dictates how the facility will address the growing demand, changing residents’ requirements, and staffing limitations. They are also responsible for prioritizing resident and employee interests.

Many of the workforce management systems used today are antiquated and lack the dynamic capabilities needed to keep pace with employee needs. While they may help create employee schedules, they do not provide real-time reporting of labor costs and other key performance indicator (KPI) alerts or support on demand scheduling changes.  

Premier workforce management systems anticipate staffing needs. They quickly resolve issues, adjust to changing resident populations and acuity in real time, and produce real-time workforce analytics to inform astute decisions that benefit your staff and your residents.

Not all workforce management systems are created equal. In assisted living, providers must ensure their system can promote the business outcomes that advance quality and            counter staffing shortages.

Six Must-Haves in workforce management

A premier workforce management system will:

  1. Boost employee engagement by making it easy for employees to access and adjust updated schedules.
  2. Enhance recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes to build a positive employee experiences from their first interaction.
  3. Provide user-friendly navigation that lets users quickly perform tasks and view real-time data at-a-glance.
  4. Reduce labor and overtime costs by helping fill open shifts and adjust schedules without overtime. Advanced systems also recommend employees who can work an open shift without incurring overtime.  
  5. Integrate live attendance tracking, scheduling, and operational compliance systems to deliver real-time access to KPIs.  
  6. Remediate quality issues with capabilities purpose-built for your needs. Quality revolves around proper staffing and organizational compliance. With the right workforce management system, you'll  always know where scheduling gaps and attendance problems occur and how to resolve them fast. 

Overly complicated systems increase user frustration, who end up under using or neglecting the systems.

Countering the harsh reality of rising turnover

High employee turnover makes caring for the aging population challenging. In senior living facilities, turnover rates exceed 33%, according to Argentum, while skilled nursing providers report annual rates between 50% to 80%.

As a result, being short staffed is a way of life in many senior care facilities. The 2020 Forecast Report: Workforce Trends report by Argentum states that 1.2 million jobs remain unfilled in healthcare and social assistance industry in the 2019. 

Consequently, many providers are enhancing salary and benefit packages to attract candidates as well as devoting more resources to hiring. These are always good choices but how can a facility increase employee retention? Simply, you can do this by making your entire operation more efficient. Is your organization its most valuable resource?

How the shortage impacts senior living

The senior care industry is looking to other industries, such as manufacturing and retail, that have successfully navigated similar scenarios. Many used Lean approaches and workforce management systems to deliver high service levels with limited resources.

However, the senior living and long-term care industries face greater challenges because they cannot spread resources to thin without affect quality of resident care. In addition, many must follow employee scheduling requirements and keep the right qualified workers in the right positions, all day every day. 

As a result, providers must understand how to navigate staffing shortages and preserve quality of care. They can do so by breaking down the underlying factors and looking for ways to alleviate their staff's burden. Of course, they make hiring good people an ongoing priority.

Premier workforce management systems help counter turnover by streamlining applicant recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes. Many senior living providers use a workforce management system equipped with applicant tracking and human capital management to recruit development-minded nursing candidates.

Lack of a content, experienced staff contributes to poor resident care and lower occupancy rates. It starts by tarnishing the facility's reputation, which makes it harder staying fully occupied. And if staff lack the expertise needed to troubleshoot resident needs, the entire system fails to  provide the day-to-day assistance senior living residents expect.

Workforce management amplifies quality

When staff are spread too thin, they cannot perform optimally or even adequately. Operators must find better ways to work smarter and maintain their predetermined staffing ratio. Only the right workforce management system can leverage Lean staffing principles. And, when part of a comprehensive strategy, a premier workforce management system that tackles lean principles can increase employee productivity, job satisfaction, and promote career advancement, which in turn reduces turnover and enhances quality care.

Applying Lean principles with workforce management systems

Lean principles have been helping organizations in multiple industries, especially manufacturing, reach productivity goals for decades. Lean seeks to fundamentally change the organization's  values and culture.

The National Institute of Health describes Lean as operating philosophies and methods designed to enhance value for patients by reducing waste.

Lean utilization helps fuel lean principles and compliment workforce management systems by helping expanding the staff's abilities. It requires developing employees to their highest level of skill through role enhancement, delegation, flexibility, and technology, especially workforce management. For example, ongoing professional development expands nursing skills and enables nurses to provide current, safe, and expert care.

Willing and engaged staff can be trained in multiple skills from basic first aid and EMR to QA auditing, and quality management.

Better delegate with a premier workforce management system

Effective delegation strengthens relationships and improves employee engagement by  facilitating two-way communication. This also help staff complete tasks in a timely manner  than cramming too many tasks to the end of the shift, which leads to overtime and frustration.

Leverage the right technology

Basic workforce management systems automate employee scheduling and attendance to properly staff facilities and ensure workers punch in and out on time. More advanced systems can also expose attendance and employee scheduling trends that hamper productivity.

Drive flexibility

Pursuing flexible skill sets drive productivity, reduce costs, and improve employee performance. Integrated workforce management systems help operators customize staffing policies to support their evolving needs and employee skill sets. Integrated systems take these skills into consideration when generating compliance reports, Payroll-Based Journal reports.

However, only workforce management systems purpose built for long-term care and post-acute care can support senior care policies and corresponding employee development. Systems that treat all healthcare environments the same cannot support real-time employee scheduling, attendance tracking, and policy monitoring.

How SmartLinx supports Lean Principles

Lean principles help organizations improve productivity and understand costs by more efficiently utilizing resources. When tailored for the organization’s environment, workforce management systems help organizations apply lean principles.

Promoting quality

SmartLinx handles employee scheduling to meet to federal and organizational requirements as well as Lean principles. The workforce management system also quickly adapts employee schedules to match changing resident needs. SmartLinx notifies administrators when a sudden scheduling change (missed shift, tardiness) causes a facility to fall out of compliance and lists  of qualified employees available to fill the need.

Boosting productivity and eliminating inefficiencies

Purpose-built for long-term care, post-acute care, and senior living, SmartLinx streamlines the administrative processes by presenting all scheduling functions in an intuitive graphical dashboard. Users can quickly access what they need and modify schedules. The SmartLinx centralized console lets them see schedule status for all facilities simultaneously and drill down for more information.

Using the unified dashboard, administrators can quickly ascertain who is approaching overtime and adjust schedules accordingly. When a shift opens, SmartLinx automatically recommends qualified employees who can work without incurring overtime while also supporting internal policies, such as seniority. Schedulers can send out shift requests knowing the software will notify them when employees respond.

Employees can also receive and respond to open shift requests on their mobile device. If they cannot work a scheduled shift, employees can use SmartLinx mobile workforce management system to swap shifts with qualified co-workers and view responses in real time.

Lower expenses

Many workers routinely punch in early or late. These incremental minutes add up to big costs , SmartLinx presents all incidental overtime on one unified console. Administrators can quickly spot trends and implement policies to block early punches, late punch outs, and buddy punching.


Demonstrating quality care will remain a top key performance indicator. Integrated workforce management systems that support employee development and lean principles will enable providers to maximize employee productivity and eliminate inefficiencies. They can use workforce management systems to reduce labor costs while ensuring the staffing meets quality standards and complies with evolving regulations.

Request a free demo today and learn about SmartLinx™ -- our comprehensive, innovative, and cohesive suite of workforce management solutions.


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