How to Choose Workforce Management Software

April 18, 2022 Lynne Jackson

For long-term care and post-acute care providers, every dollar matters. Costs continue to rise while reimbursements stall or fall. However, costs represent only one priority. Resident care continues to top operator priorities as they strive to deliver high-quality care every day despite  mounting challenges. Workforce management software has taken center stage in this battle because of its ability to control workforce operational costs and empower quality resident care. 

“What makes workforce management special is that it is very closely tied to day-to-day operations. Put in a system today and a manager may be able to reduce overtime costs tomorrow,” according to

The growing demand for workforce management software has prompted an influx of solutions vying for your business. Since many systems make similar claims, sorting through the myriad of options can be challenging.   

The following guidelines will help you find workforce management software that closely aligns with your short and long-term goals.

1. Define your workforce management software needs

Before getting started. You need to know what you want from workforce management software and why. Most skilled nursing care and senior living providers buy workforce management software to streamline administrative processes and daily workforce operations. Of course, workforce management software should automate manual tasks and eliminate inefficiencies. But is that enough?

Although administrators bear the greatest responsibility, they are not the only ones who stand to benefit. Workforce management software touches numerous people across the organization with each stakeholder group experiencing different impacts.

Consider all perspectives. Some workforce management software systems allow multiple employee groups to access the system and leverage some of its functions.

  1. Identify who will set priorities for your workforce management software and make the final decision.
  2. Determine who the new workforce management software will impact and how? Map out potential impacts to each stakeholder group from senior executives to middle management to healthcare workers, especially nursing staff.
  3. Prioritize all stakeholder objectives.
  4. Compare and contrast each solution’s impact on each stakeholder group and look for the software suite that positively each. It’s possible.
  5. Give special consideration to front-line employees who deliver hands-on care to residents and prioritize workforce management software that best supports their needs.

2. Specify business outcomes

Workforce management software providers tout their ability to increase efficiency and, by default, reduce expenses. There’s more than one way to thwart rising expenses. Analyze how each system handles operating expenses and reduce expenses, especially labor costs. Keep in mind not all workforce management software can address the unique needs of skilled nursing and senior living facilities.

In fact, many workforce management software systems treat all healthcare facilities the same while others assume an even broader approach, using the same process for all enterprises of a similar size. Though they may appear feature-rich, these systems can prove very difficult to configure for skilled nursing and senior living environments. Generic systems can force users to search through lots of irrelevant screens to find the data they need. You could also end up paying for features you’ll never use.

Tangible ROI/Reduce labor costs

Workforce management software can be a powerful tool for reducing some costs. In fact, research from claims "75% of organizations report ROI in less than a year."

What drives efficiency in some environments may not do so in yours. Labor costs represent the greatest expense in most organizations, including skilled nursing and assisted living. Workforce management software often cuts costs by cutting headcount. In healthcare, this benefit is limited to administrative resources since quality care and compliance require strict staffing levels. Find out how Excelerate cut labor costs by 15% and overtime by 30%..

Although workforce management software cannot affect the overall number of caregiver roles, it can reduce associated costs by reducing overtime and overstaffing expenses. To maximize your return, you must analyze how each system manages labor and review its ROI track record. Solutions designed for skilled nursing and senior living often generate higher ROI than generic workforce management software.

Save money on scheduling 

When scheduling capabilities integrate with time and attendance tracking, workforce management software enables you to identify scheduling gaps in real-time. Some systems can even help close them without running up overtime or agency costs.

Fix attendance problems

Attendance problems jeopardize quality care and budgets. Make sure the workforce management software can alert you when a worker fails to punch in or submits unscheduled time off. The system should also identify trends and attendance policy violations. Staffing needs vary day to day due to changing resident populations and acuity. Your workforce management software should keep up with fluctuating resident needs. Make sure your software tracks PPD census values for each facility and automatically adjusts the schedules to support changes. 

Fill open shifts fast

You should also look for workforce management software that automatically presents the names of qualified employees who can fill open shifts without incurring overtime. With the click of the mouse, you should be able to offer employees an extra shift and then automatically receive their responses. See how Oriole Health Care reduced overtime costs by 25% in less than three months.

Eliminate overstaffing

Overstaffing quietly drains resources. Look for workforce management software with a centralized dashboard that displays status for all facilities/sites/departments. Then you can quickly pinpoint overstaffing/understaffing, drilldown for details, and reallocate resources quickly.

3. Align Workforce Management Software Capabilities with Quality of Care

Your workforce management software should help your facility run better and ease the burden on your workforce. Quality care revolves around staffing. Research demonstrates how the availability of qualified nurses reduces injuries, improves outcomes, and obtains faster medical intervention when needed.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates the mortality rate for understaffed units as 6% higher than their fully staffed counterparts.

 A UCLA study states increasing the number of RNs and hours of nursing care per patient could save 6,700 lives and 4 million days of patient care in hospitals each year.

Long-term, senior, and post-acute care organizations must staff their facilities to support their fluctuating resident populations and their changing needs. A workforce management system designed specifically for these environments can make sure schedules:

  • Support the precise resident population.
  • Adjust to resident acuity (PPD census values).
  • Always maintain the proper ratio of caregiving staff in compliance with federal and state regulations, such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and automatically alert you when it falls short.

Improved Productivity

When you give employees what they need to work efficiently and balance their work-life responsibilities, you can dramatically improve engagement and, in turn, productivity. Workforce management software should give employees real-time access to scheduling information and key financial data, like paystubs, on their mobile devices. Some systems take it to the next level with self-scheduling capabilities that let employees quickly adjust their schedules to support their lives. Discover how to use a mobile app to enhance employee productivity.

Easily Compliance with Federal and State Regulations

Compliance reporting is integral in workforce management software, especially in the highly regulated healthcare industry. However, each healthcare sector has a different set of regulations. When you choose workforce management software specifically designed for skilled nursing, you can more easily generate compliance reports. See how Greek American reduced payroll-based journal reporting to 2 minutes.

4. Choose Workforce Management Software Tailored for Your Environment

Although the core workforce management functions are the same throughout most environments, their application differs substantially even in similar environments. Consider the various healthcare fields. Scheduling, attendance, and compliance are critical to each field’s success. But the rules governing their application are based on different regulations, operational dynamics, medical procedures, and patient needs.

Implementing a workforce management system designed for all healthcare environments would be cumbersome to navigate as you’d have to bypass numerous irrelevant features. More importantly, it’s less likely to continually adapt to evolving regulations specific to your needs and neglect functions that could advance key business outcomes, like overtime reduction and quality ratings.

Customize the basics for Skilled Nursing and AL/IL facilities

Make sure the core workforce management capabilities — scheduling, attendance tracking, and compliance — achieve the business outcomes you desire. Scheduling for optimum care fulfills only part of the quality equation. Tardiness and sudden absences are a routine part of every operation.

As a result, look for workforce management software that can automatically identify and close scheduling gaps before they impact resident care. To do so requires first integrating attendance management, time tracking, and scheduling data. Second, it requires providing real-time alerts and scheduling fixes when gaps occur.

Compliance shouldn’t be an afterthought. Look for workforce management software, like SmartLinx,  that actively tracks relevant compliance criteria in real-time and notifies you when a facility falls below the set threshold. The workforce management software should also produce full compliance reports on demand. Get the 7 Secrets to Payroll-Based Journal Success.

Make Ease of Use a Priority

Let’s face it. Managers don’t have time to scroll through multiple spreadsheets to find data. Make sure the interface complements your workflow and lets you find information immediately. Be wary of workforce management software that treats all healthcare installations the same. In many cases, these systems are cumbersome, filled with fields you’ll never need and complexity that will prove difficult to navigate.

Your workforce management software should also provide at-a-glance views of live attendance and scheduling data across all facilities. Designed exclusively for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, SmartLinx workforce management presents the real-time data on multiple facilities on a centralized, color-coded dashboard. Drilldown capabilities put all the data you need at your fingertips.

Remember, creating ideal schedules shouldn’t be labor-intensive. SmartLinx workforce management software can quickly generate schedules that support multiple facilities’ requirements and comply with staffing regulations. See how Trilogy optimized schedules for 110 facilities

Add business analytics 

Incorporating machine learning into workforce management software enables you to identify trends and resolve issues before they cost you money. For example, SmartLinx workforce management software can help you control labor costs by predicting and preventing overtime as well as spotting inefficiencies. Learn how SmartLinx Spotlight enlightens business decisions.

In addition to recommending staff qualified to fill shift openings without incurring overtime hours, the software can incorporate organizational policies, such as union rules, in its recommendations. With the click of the mouse, you can notify employees of openings in each one’s preferred method, such as text, email, voicemail, or mobile app alert.

Engage employees

Many caregivers work different shifts from one week to the next to accommodate the facility’s growing demands. This flexibility comes with a cost.

“Unstable work schedules have a profound effect on employees and can have serious consequences for organizations. More often than not, this instability is the result of inaccurately anticipating scheduling needs. Thirty-two percent of managers recognize this is a top scheduling challenge,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Giving employees tools to balance work-life responsibilities increases their engagement and commitment. 

“Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work -- highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity,” according to Gallup.

Look for workforce management software that supports a full range of mobile capabilities. Enabling workers to access new schedules, sign up for and swap shifts in real-time provides the flexibility they need to manage their lives. The mobile app lets them perform necessary tasks quickly at their convenience, which enhances engagement and loyalty.

Improve your reputation

In addition to fulfilling compliance reporting requirements, SmartLinx workforce management software can also improve your Five-Star Rating for staffing. SmartLinx tracks staffing for all facilities in real-time and alerts you when staffing issues arise that could jeopardize your desired Five-Star Rating. The system then tells you what you can do to remediate the issue before it impacts your rating. Learn how to land a perfect five-star rating.


Additional Resources

Maximize Quality and Minimize Labor Costs with Workforce Management Software

How to Gain Efficiency through Lean Utilization and Workforce Management Systems

Trilogy Advances Quality Care and Reduces Costs with SmartLinx

Parker Jewish Saves 6 Figures in Labor Costs

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