How to Manage Short Staffing With the Support of an Agency Marketplace

February 24, 2023 Kimberly Anderson-Mutch

How to Manage Short Staffing With the Support of an Agency Marketplace

Whether you manage an assisted living or long-term care facility, it's critical to maintain enough staff to uphold the quality of care you strive for. However, many healthcare facilities today struggle to keep enough staff to maintain compliance and ensure every resident or patient receives the care they need. This has led to reform for minimum staffing requirements for residential nursing facilities to improve quality and safety for patients.

By partnering with a staffing agency through an internal platform, you can automate end-to-end agency management and reduce your scheduling gaps and errors by always having enough staff on hand. As nursing profession satisfaction rates drop, working with a staffing agency may even improve workplace engagement and employee retention. Below, we assess the importance of staffing agency relationships and how you can use software to meet your healthcare staffing needs.

What's Causing Short Staffing in Healthcare and Nursing Facilities? 

Before we dive into the different ways an advanced staffing agency can help your nursing facility, let's look at the top reasons facilities around the nation are experiencing shortages of nurses.

1. Burnout 

This is the most common reason nurses leave the field, creating a shortage in many facilities. It results from caregivers becoming overworked and emotionally exhausted. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it's estimated that at least 30% of healthcare professionals have left or considered leaving the profession due to the emotional toll.

These high rates of employee turnover due to burnout may be affecting your facility, with the national average sitting between 8% and 37%, depending on geographic location. With burnout leading to higher patient-to-nurse ratios, many staff members feel they're ill-equipped to keep up with the demands of the job and provide quality care. 

What's Causing Short Staffing in Healthcare and Nursing Facilities?

2. Retiring Workforce

The nursing workforce is aging, and with over one-third of the workforce being older than 50 years, many facilities will see a large number of their staff retire within the next 10 to 15 years. With many older healthcare professionals training new nurses, it presents a lack of resources for the younger generation entering the workforce. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many nurses to retire early, which has created a shortage of experienced nurses in the field. 

3. Aging Population

As with the aging workforce, another cause impacting the nursing shortage is the growing population of Americans over the age of 65. As of 2019, there are over 70 million older adults in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of the population aged 65 and older have two or more chronic health conditions. These increasing healthcare needs add more strain on nursing staff, particularly in residential facilities.

How a Staffing Marketplace Can Help With Short Staffing 

Since the pandemic, there are not enough full-time employees to keep up with the rising demand for senior living nurses. Agency staffing has increased yearly, contributing nearly 1.7 million nurses in 2022 compared to 538,368 nurses in 2020. As this number keeps growing, it's critical for healthcare facilities to utilize these agencies to gain access to much-needed staff nurses.

If you're looking to take care of your nursing shortage, using a staffing marketplace enables you to utilize agency staffing efficiently. The following are three key benefits of partnering with a staffing agency through the staffing marketplace from Smartlinx:

  • Labor market knowledge: These agencies will have an in-depth understanding of the healthcare industry and know what it takes for your facility to grow short-term and long-term. By understanding the ins and outs of current nursing needs, staffing agencies can anticipate what you need before you do and address your specific talent gaps.
  • Superior hiring process: A healthcare agency maintains its efforts to recruit, engage, and hire the best candidates available, something your administration may not have the time to do. This helps you create the smoothest onboarding process possible. 
  • Connections to all kinds of talent: Through our staffing marketplace, you can connect with passive agency candidates who aren't actively looking for nursing opportunities, which means you can catch the interest of talented candidates with flexible availability.

Our staffing marketplace takes care of numerous administrative tasks that can strain your current team. The marketplace will make it easy to fill any gaps in your facility's staff by helping you communicate with agency vendor partners, so you can ensure your patients and residents receive the most attention and best care possible. 

The staffing marketplace from Smartlinx also removes the burden of manual administrative work to help you streamline your staffing ecosystem. In the current climate, connecting with a staffing agency through the marketplace can be exactly what your facility needs to succeed.

Why a Relationship With a Staffing Agency Matters

Why a Relationship With a Staffing Agency Matters 

A relationship with the right staff management agency can reduce the workload and burden on your current nursing staff and ensure your patients and residents receive the best possible care. When you build a strong relationship with your chosen agency, you can more easily fill positions as needed. Whether you need a temporary nursing position filled for a month or want to add a full-time nurse to your team, staffing agencies can help you immediately find the candidate that suits your needs.

Think of your relationship with a staffing agency as a strategic partnership that can reduce the stress and frustration on your existing staff when you experience higher occurrences of turnover and burnout. Even with short-term contracts and flexible staff positions, a longstanding staffing agency relationship means you may even be able to bring back the same staff. Because you have more flexibility in who you can choose from through a nursing staff agency, you allow your patients and residents to develop stronger relationships with your nursing staff. 

6 Benefits of Building a Partnership With an Agency

What will partnering with a healthcare staffing agency look like for your nursing facility? Here are the top six benefits of using a solution that connects you to an agency to reduce nurse shortages:

1. Offers Access to More Qualified Candidates

Because nurses are in demand, they can often choose their work opportunities more carefully. Many nurses sign up with healthcare staffing agencies to access more jobs with competitive pay and benefits. Because the salary for registered nurses increased by 3.42% in 2021 and is expected to continue growing, many nurses are looking for ways to develop their skills and move up in the field to obtain these higher rates.

When your nursing facility partners with a staff management agency through the staffing marketplace, you benefit by gaining access to a nationwide roster of qualified candidates with varying levels of experience.

In other words, healthcare staffing agencies immediately open up your facility to top-talent individuals. These agencies can also take care of the sourcing and screening process your facility may require before hiring nursing staff. Most staffing agencies thoroughly screen and vet all candidates for you.

2. Provides the Right Tools and Expertise

Thanks to advancements in technology, staffing agencies go beyond regular job ads. If your skilled nursing facility relies on job ads, it may be more difficult for you to find the right candidate that brings value to your environment. Implementing a staffing agency model through a workforce management platform makes it easy to navigate your options and access tools like filters that speed up the candidate search process.

Being proactive can help you avoid staffing shortages in the future, and embracing technology can allow you to do just that. Optimizing your operations with a software platform that manages your employees enables you to plan ahead, meet regulatory requirements and ensure you always have adequate staffing for each shift. Whether you need to hire temporary workers or quickly contact a replacement, the staffing marketplace empowers you and your team to resolve various staffing challenges and allows agency staffing to transform your organization.

3. Allows for Increased Flexibility 

Whether you run an assisted living, long-term care, or skilled nursing facility, you can benefit from the flexibility provided by a staffing solution. At times, you may need an emergency temporary replacement for one of your staff members. Other times, you might experience periods of higher patient ratios and need to hire permanent staff to care for your growing number of residents. During peak flu season, you might require more on-call nurses and increased availability.

For any purpose, healthcare staffing agencies can connect you to the right candidate. From the convenience of a single platform, you can fill a variety of jobs in your facility and maintain the quality of care you strive for.

4. Reduces Administrative Burden

A healthcare staffing agency can streamline the selection and onboarding process for your candidates. Likely, your administrative staff and nurse managers spend hours each week sorting through applications, arranging interviews, and even conducting training courses. A staffing agency partnership means you have access to dedicated and hassle-free recruitment that allows your team to dedicate their time to their patients.

One study found that during a 12.5-hour shift, nurses spend an average of 173 minutes dealing with administrative tasks, which is significantly longer compared to the amount they spend on care activities. Other research shows that patient care time increases when administrative tasks and documentation time decrease after implementing electronic systems, such as staffing solutions. Reducing the administrative burden means nursing managers and faculty have more time to oversee patient and resident care. 

5. Lessens Strain on Faculty for Training Resources

Ultimately, your nursing staff and faculty have enough responsibilities on their plates without having to deal with training procedures and onboarding paperwork. A healthcare staffing agency takes most of the workload off their hands by providing quality, trained professionals who are fully credentialed and screened before they begin the position. This means your candidates arrive ready to get to work.

An agency might even ensure each candidate is fully knowledgeable about the procedures and policies of your specific facility. As a result, your faculty can spend less time on on-the-job training and more time on other high-value tasks, such as patient care. Reducing time-consuming activities boosts efficiency and productivity in your facility.

Helps You Meet Operational Goals

6. Helps You Meet Operational Goals

The central goal of your facility is to ensure you have enough caring, dedicated staff to deliver the best care possible to your patients and residents. With a nursing staffing agency, you can remain fully staffed at all times with the best possible candidates for the task. Using a workforce management solution that connects you to a comprehensive partnering agency, you can meet your larger operational goals, such as improving cost effectiveness, staff retention, and reducing nurse burnout.

How You Can Best Utilize Staffing Agencies

Though it's clear staffing agencies can be beneficial in times of short staffing, it's important to optimize engagement with your staffing agency partner by integrating a solution that can do more than just provide access to agencies. Today, reducing manual labor and systems with automated platforms makes it easier for you and your staff to work more efficiently and ensure your nurses have a more consistent schedule.

By using a workforce management solution that integrates a staffing marketplace for you to connect with various agencies, you can access the advantages of a staffing agency while improving other critical aspects of your scheduling process. Staffing marketplace software gives you faster results and reduces the tediousness of filling empty shifts or dealing with human errors while maintaining your standards of care.

Discover How to Partner With Staffing Agencies Using Smartlinx Staffing Marketplace

Discover How to Partner With Staffing Agencies Using Smartlinx Staffing Marketplace 

When it comes to healthcare, the quality you provide begins and ends with your nurses, so it's critical to keep your team satisfied with an efficient schedule. With Smartlinx, you can access an extensive staffing marketplace through our innovative workforce management software.

We know how time-consuming it can be to go through a staffing agency the old-fashioned way, which is why we created a solution that makes it easy to view your entire staffing ecosystem in one platform, from requesting and filling shifts to taking control of your agency spend

Smartlinx's Staffing Marketplace also allows you to automate manual tasks, so you can fill shifts faster, letting you focus on your nursing staff, patients, and residents more. By reducing compliance penalties, gaps in care, inaccurate invoices, and double-booking errors, you can boost your staff retention and ensure each of your nurses feels prepared to do their best. 

If you want to learn more about our nurse staffing solutions, schedule a demo or contact us today for more information. 

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