GoodLife U Video Blog: Replacement Staffing

This month on our GoodLife U video blog series with Dr. Mike Strouse, we are going to tackle replacement staffing solutions. There’s no question that we face an inordinate number of shift openings and instability across the country, so our focus has to be on effective replacement staffing solutions. This is GoodLife U’s sweet spot. We love utilizing a variety of solutions to create as much capacity as possible for DSPs to work extra without contributing to burnout.

3 Things that Cause Problems for Replacement Staffing

There are a couple of problems we need to address right away. These are the 3 biggest issues that we’ve seen getting in the way of effective replacement staffing:

  1. Higher reliance on part-time staff
  2. Higher reliance on 5-day work weeks 
  3. Too many wonky schedules

Each of these issues produce fractured shift-filling, burnout, and ultimately don’t add capacity or stability to the existing workforce. Remember, our research shows that people who work part-time and 5-days a week usually do not opt to work extra. This may be because they are in school or already have a second job. Or, when they do agree to work a 6th day, they may only work part of an open shift (fracturing the schedules even more) and often face burnout faster.

Pool Staffing is not an effective solution

In our work nationwide, we’ve also seen an increase in the utilization of “as-needed” or “PRN” (pro re nata) substitute staffing. While this varies state-to-state or region-to-region, there are a couple of alarm bells that go off when we encounter programs that are heavily reliant on PRN or pool staffing. This is because, in our opinion, the business model of pool staffing is a little too similar to that of pay-day loans. 

We have even seen DSPs leaving provider agencies in order to work for pool-staffing companies (for $2/hr more) only to be leased back to the agency at a rate of as much as $40/hr. The result of utilizing pool-staffing companies will be the opposite of what you want. It costs more (in some cases much, much more) and delivers less consistency, quality, and control.

So, why is this happening? Usually DSPs are leaving because they want 2 things the provider didn’t deliver: 

  1. Your pay is not as good as it needs to be. It’s short by a couple of dollars per hour. We can help with this.
  2. Your schedules are wonky, unattractive, and they specifically lack standardization.

Honestly, if you don’t have a system or model for filling shifts, it will continue to plague your agency. So, if you want to engage with a positive plan for replacement staffing, we suggest you consider a few of our proven solutions. 

Solution 1: Use a 3-day work week

The first solution for building capacity for replacement staffing is to try a compressed, 3-day work week. We’ve talked about this a lot in the past, so feel free to go back and explore some former episodes on this topic. In particular, we recommend the episode on our Five Faucet Theory. Ultimately, when DSPs are organically “off” 16 days each month, they have much more availability to pick up an extra shift (or two!) and still maintain 2-days off each week. The truth is that the capacity of your existing workforce cannot be fully maximized if you’re relying on 5-day work weeks and have 30% of your workforce working part-time (which is the national average; at GoodLife, part-time DSPs make up less than 2% of our workforce). 

Solution 2: Standardize your Schedules

The second solution is schedule standardization. We have conducted site reviews with agencies across the country and this is what we see most commonly: managers are given ratio requirements and a budget and are responsible for building schedules that satisfy both. As a result, each manager creates their own shift strategy independently which makes it very difficult to seamlessly replace open shifts using staff agency-wide. Again, we recommend that you revisit a couple of previous episodes on this where we talk about the value of moving away from Wonky Schedules and toward a standardized schedule approach in order to Fill the Vacancy Gap and streamline staff replacement.

Solution 3: Use a Superimposed Workforce

If you have a 3-day work week and standardized schedules agency-wide, filling vacant positions with a superimposed workforce becomes a no-brainer. We’ve gone into more detail about the superimposed and employee choice solutions in the past (check that episode out), but here’s the gist. At GoodLife, we hire a group of people who are scheduled to work (either a standard front or back half schedule) but not in a specific home or program and we layer these staff on top of our existing workforce. This essentially  becomes an internal pool of our own replacement staff.  When the need for replacement staff comes up (due to call offs, paid time off, medical leave, vacant/open positions, etc.) our Workforce Manger will assign open shifts to the superimposed workforce, which is made possible by the use of standardized schedules agency-wide. We actually pay our superimposed staff a little more because of the flexibility they possess to go into any home/program with ease, but again—they are still guaranteed a set, standard, and reliable schedule.

GoodLife U’s Superior Replacement Staffing Solutions

These solutions offer you a system that will free you from being beholden to pool-staffing. You will be able to give your DSPs what they want most: more money and consistent, preferred schedules. Even better, you do this by reducing your reliance on part-time staff in favor of full-time staff, which improves quality of care, agency-wide stability, and consumer/guardian satisfaction results.

If you want to explore utilizing GoodLife U’s replacement staffing solutions or have additional questions, please reach out to us

We understand that it’s hard to imagine being a champion of change (even positive change!) when we are still stuck proverbially bailing water each day. While our team is here to help you embrace big change, the truth is that the implementation of these replacement staffing strategies can also be a terrific baby-step or jumping-off block for those of you who are facing what feels like an impossible task of pivoting from your current situation to any new system. We’d love to help you get out of the rut in a painless way that brings your agency closer to the stability you and your DSPs crave.

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