I once had an employer ask me to attend an out of state conference. When I initially heard about the conference, I was interested in the content and locale, and was looking forward to it. Then, I heard that the same employer had wanted about four others to attend the conference, and, to save money, expected us all to bunk together in pairs. I barely knew the other potential attendees, and had no intention of bunking with strangers in order to attend. I politely declined the invitation, citing a scheduling conflict. It changed the way I viewed the employer. That perception cost couldn’t be worth the probable $100.00 hotel cost savings.
I hear examples of these occurrences occasionally, and I trust that the well intentioned leaders have no idea of the impact of their budget decisions. I get that everyone is on a budget, and I’m the first one to look for savings when they count. However, some savings end up costing much more in the long run, and we may lose good employees to these decisions.
Here are a few examples of morale busting cost savings:
Part time vs. prn staffing: If employees are working a routine schedule, even with limited hours, try to reward their loyalty in some way. If they don’t fit into the facility’s benefits guidelines, providing partial time off accrual benefits goes a long way.
Paid holidays: Sometimes people don’t get paid for holidays because they are newly hired, or there is a question as to where the day fell in their schedule. I have heard many a negative discussion about this issue over the years. The best way to reduce staff negativity on the issue is to be up front with all staff about how holidays are paid and any restrictions, to reduce misunderstandings or hard feelings. If your facility is closed on Mondays, and Memorial Day is not a paid holiday, make sure that is clear and in writing.
Vacation and time off: Often, people want the same time off during the year, and it is not possible due to patient coverage. Some facilities use a lottery system, some use first-ask first assigned, and some use seniority as well when awarding time off. This process too can be better received when the process is communicated well to all, and everyone gets the “rules”.
Conferences: Good meetings allow for appropriate staff to learn new information, get re-energized, get out of their “isolating silos” and meet and interact with peers. The value of meeting attendance can be measured in increased knowledge and new energy to solve challenges. If it is a good meeting, it is well worth the cost. Review the agenda for help with the attendance decision.
Training: Good training is necessary to ensure all staff know what to do in their roles and how to respond to situations. It is also part of meeting regulatory and accreditation guidelines. Finding and sponsoring good training will pay off. Trying to piecemeal training usually is a time waster and not effective.
We all want to feel valued. Value can come in many ways, and showing people that they are appreciated doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Attrition costs much more in the long run. Consider the costs and impact that staffing changes have had in the past to use as fuel to help in budgeting for these staffing morale challenges.