What would YOU do with 303 more hours in the year?
When it’s easier than ever to end up short-staffed these days, it’s important to assess whether the time of the employees already on staff is being used properly. A survey conducted by Southern Illinois University had surprising statistics showing that assisted living communities could be saving thousands of hours of time and tens of thousands of dollars in labor wages by evaluating how much of their employee’s time is wasted, and providing tools and resources to reduce the time needed for simple tasks.
A Familiar Scenario
How important is it in the grand scheme of things? Well, let’s evaluate. Josie has been working at Orangeville’s Senior Center for 15 years, so she knows a lot about what different insurances cover. Nora, on the other hand, has only been there about 6 months now. She’s doing well, but there’s a lot to learn before she’s quick to answer any complex questions. Finally, John the janitor is busy getting ready for his rounds. Nora is stuck at the front desk so she can keep an eye the main lobby, but between the person on the phone asking about insurance coverage, a resident who needs help with their spilled drink, and another current client on hold, she feels swamped.
Let’s say that Nora could go to get the supplies to clean the mess. Turns out, the janitor is using the mop in his daily rounds, so she needs to go find John somewhere along his route. That can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes alone just to find the right supplies. On the flip side, if she had to put the potential client on hold to find Josie so she can answer the insurance question accurately, even more problems could arise. Josie isn’t on a specific route, so finding her could be next to impossible. In which case, many facilities choose to use overhead speakers, which can be loud and potentially disturbing to residents. The task of locating Josie, and then asking the question or transferring the call, can take even more time if she has no method to find her directly, 5-10 minutes on this task alone. Stressed clients will be harder to close on when answers aren’t readily available, and staff will be worn thin from the need to run back and forth.
Do The Math
Still, 5 to 10 minutes doesn’t seem that bad, right? Especially when only one or two potential clients seem to care when it happens. Except, as I mentioned before, this time adds up, and quickly. A small team of 5, assuming they are paid an average wage of $11 each, spends 303 hours of their time per employee per year on finding other staff members. That’s over $16,000 in employee wages going toward inter-staff communication. Quite the investment, it turns out. These numbers come from data that was collected during a survey conducted by Southern Illinois University. It included responses from 298 senior care/assisted living communities operating within the United States. Data shows that if you have 15 employees with an average pay of $11, that’s a $50,000 yearly investment into your staff’s communication.
Finding a Solution
So, how do we fix this? If there’s so much money being wasted each year, how can we recoup even half of that? One way to help reduce the amount of time your employees spend between tasks - i.e., reduce the amount of time these small tasks take to complete - is to invest in efficient communication methods. Each facility is different in size, shape, and operation, but all senior care communities are in dire need of a consistent and convenient communication system. A well-oiled machine means that all parts move smoothly not just independently, but together.
An important question to ask is this - does your staff have a reliable way to engage in one-on-one or group conversations without the need to search for one another? It sounds silly, especially if you have a smaller facility, but time spent looking for another person adds up - and quickly! In a situation where clients could be on the phone or in person, in their rooms or out in the commons, and they have questions that only a few employees can answer, it’s important to think ahead and make sure they can get the answers they need, and fast.
The saying goes, it takes money to make money. It may not always be true, but in order to fix fundamental issues like inefficient communication, the best way to increase productivity, is to provide the proper tools for your employees to keep in touch on the go. Cell phones are expensive and a liability risk, and require a cell signal and monthly payments to even work. Tablets can connect staff to each other and the internet, but those are just as expensive if not more so than cell phones, and require bulky covers to protect the fragile hardware from fatal drops in an on-the-go job like senior care. Two-way radios, on the other hand, are durable, reliable even in large concrete assisted living facilities and hospital settings, and provide fast and easy staff-to-staff communication with little to no bother to residents.
Check Your Flow
This is a sign: talk to your employees honestly about how they communicate with each other. You may be surprised when you find out just how difficult it is to stay up to date with one another, and how it affects the flow of information and efficiency. If you aren’t sure how your employees and business are affected by communication issues, Sure-Response offers a free Communications Evaluations Report. Our experts can walk you through the data and show you just how much money your business is losing by ignoring this crucial aspect of a well-functioning senior care facility.