This is a normal question that we get here at Axsium when we are working with our hospital clients. Usually it comes either before we implement a new scheduling system or awhile after the hospital had last done anything with scheduling systems. It seems that any work or effort around the scheduling system gets nursing leadership thinking about the centralized staffing office and what they wish it was doing.
The easy answer for me is: Sure, I’ve got lots of ideas! But in truth, we have to have a discussion with three parties to get an idea of where the real problems might be. The adage about perception being reality is very accurate in this situation. Our job is piece together the various perceptions to understand the complete picture and make assessments on where the shortcomings of the staffing office may be.
The three parties I like to meet with are:
- Nursing Leadership – The staffing office is ultimately accountable to them and any marching orders on what the staffing office should be doing comes from this party.
- Staffers – The people who are doing the work in the staffing office are obviously the most hands-on in terms of tasks and processes.
- Nurse Managers – In retail terms, this party makes up the customer population of the staffing office, as they are the end recipients of moves made by the staffing office.
The interesting thing to me is that not all of the above three parties may be in agreement that the staffing office is “not effective.” That may be a perception of just one or two of the parties. So our job is to—and pardon my very technical jargon here—“figure it out!”
My experience is that, while every hospital is unique and special, staffing office problems are often very much the same. What is complex is figuring out what mix of issues are creating the perception problems that the hospital is experiencing.
Here are some examples of what we find:
- When the staffing office doesn’t know what to do or what is expected of them, that’s a leadership problem.
- When the staffers don’t know what they are doing or are not doing it well, that’s a process problem.
- When the nurse managers are unhappy with the work being done by the staffers, that’s a communication problem.
Notice that none of those three were technology problems. That is because, in most cases, the problems aren’t being caused by the scheduling system. They might be exacerbated by the system, but it is rarely the root cause. These are people problems.
And those are the kinds of problems that we find and fix! If you have seen Axsium’s tagline recently, you may have noticed that we have changed from “Workforce Management Experts” to:
PEOPLE || STRATEGY | PRODUCTIVITY | TECHNOLOGY
This represents our focus on people. And whether the problems or improvements are in the areas of strategy, productivity, and/or technology, we solve it in context of the people.
Bringing the conversation back to staffing office problems, the entire exercise of working with staffing offices to find out why they are not effective and craft solutions to fix any problems in our sweet spot. We excel at people problems. And the solutions maybe communications or processes or even technology tweaks. It doesn’t matter to us. We are there to leverage our hospital staffing operations expertise and make the hospital work better than ever to deliver quality patient care.