GoodLife U Episode 4: Filling the Vacancy Gap

We are close to the midway point with our GoodLife U Video Blog Series and are excited to be working with so many of you to help squeeze the most out of the limited workforce resources we’ve got. 

As a reminder, each episode builds on the last; to get the most out of today’s episode, we recommend you’ve watched Episodes 1, 2 & 3 where we covered the DSP Staffing Crisis, the Problem with Wonky Schedules, and our Five Faucet Theory.  In today’s episode, we explore how openings impact your agency.

So much of GoodLife’s innovations have been fueled by extensive research, thanks in part to our 40 year partnership with KU as well as our ability to use, measure, study and improve our approaches within our own programs. We’ve used these research findings to help design our workforce solutions and are excited to share what we’ve learned with you.

First, we learned that openings cause more openings. Our research shows that the length of time that a position remains open, the greater the negative impact it has agency-wide. Now, that might not be very surprising, but what we also learned is that managers and supervisors actually prefer some openings within their individual homes because it allows their staff to be able to pick up extra shifts, or have flexibility in their schedules. This perspective is narrow, within an individual home or program; however, it doesn’t take into account the impact that opening can have on overall agency stability.

Second, our research also revealed that we can consistently predict the number of openings or the frequency of openings before they happen. Now, we can’t predict where the openings will occur, but we know how many there will be. This was pivotal because no matter how large our organization got, the percentage of openings-to-filled-positions remained the same. Despite our growth, using a traditional process to fill openings (i.e. a vacancy occurs, HR is notified, and the hunt for filling the vacancy begins), did not help us narrow the vacancy gap.

Third, we’ve come to understand that vacant positions are not the only openings that managers deal with on a daily basis. There are a number of reasons why a shift may go unfilled. For example there’s planned time off (vacation, training, PTO) and also unplanned time off (call offs, no-shows, or emergencies) that, in addition to vacant positions, impact our resources and capacity. When each uncovered shift pulls at our overall agency capacity, we realize that we can no longer afford to look at solutions that only address vacant positions. 

These research findings drive the design and development of GoodLife U’s solutions and in this episode, Mike walks us through 3 critical approaches for Filling the Vacancy Gap: Superimposed Staffing, Employee Choice, and Vacancy Management.

Superimposed Staffing – This is our overlay approach that adds DSPs to the standardized schedules in a way that is predictable, planned, choice driven, and flexible. Once we complete a retrospective analysis of the data related to each of the vacancies that occur within a home, we are able to anticipate the percentage of shifts that will be vacant on any given day of the week. We then utilize trained, Superimposed Staff to fill shifts as needed. This allows us to leverage neighborhood and even agency-wide capacity–not just the capacity of a home or singular location. Thanks to our analysis, we know exactly how many people are needed to work these overlay shifts–it’s just math. The outcome? We have an internal pool of staff that is fully trained, working full time, and is predictably available to work in ways that meaningfully cover ALL of the potential openings our organization may experience.

Employee Choice – Once our Superimposed overlay positions are established, we are able to weave our Employee Choice program into the mix. This enables new employees to experience different homes, settings, and management teams before identifying a permanent position within the agency. It helps us establish healthy expectations, and gives the new staff an opportunity to be supported throughout their training with longevity and permanency in mind while they establish a best fit. The Employee Choice program also provides quality intel and critical information about the onboarding and training process that allows GoodLife to improve. 

Vacancy Management – Again, looking at overall agency capacity is different from the considerations a manager might make for a single home or neighborhood. That’s why Vacancy Management and Coordination is so critical; at GoodLife, this is a position that serves several purposes. First, we use the Vacancy Manager to determine the need for a substitute or superimposed workforce, assigning and directing staff and managers as vacancies occur and approving overtime. This includes coordinating and approving shift trades or planned time off, both relieving the burden placed on managers and giving homes access to the full capacity of the agency-wide superimposed workforce (instead of their more limited program staff). The Vacancy Manager also functions as a data analyst, collecting and interpreting key metrics related to payroll costs, excessive overtime, PTO usage, and more. Lastly, and just as importantly, the Vacancy Manager assures adherence to the implementation and integrity of the master schedules, protecting the capacity that our Superimposed Workforce offers and being on the front lines of mitigating issues that could cause even more openings to occur.

Ultimately, when you are able to establish a system that both anticipates need and has full-time DSPs ready and waiting to be directed to any shift vacancy (both planned and unplanned), you are finally able to fill the gap.  This is what we’ve accomplished at GoodLife, and we’d love to show you how. Are you interested in learning more about our Superimposed and Vacancy Management strategies? Our GoodLife U team can analyze the impact these approaches could have for your organization specifically (that might look like this), and can walk you through the implementation process.  Please contact Megan Todd to set up a personalized meet and greet with our team–we would love to partner with you. 

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