June 30, 2020
By Brian Evans
In many industries, including senior care, the day-to-day rigors of business operations and responsibilities can be a lot to manage. When you’ve operated your business a certain way since the beginning, it can feel daunting to tackle the task of shifting to new software or updated processes – even if you know it will improve operational efficiencies. While you might believe that constant innovation and updates in the industry are hard to keep up with, taking a step back is often the smarter choice for long-term efficiency gains.
Knowing how to become more efficient involves streamlining processes, utilizing technological innovations and adopting new practices. A mindset of continual improvement helps ensure your organization’s long-term prosperity.
Here are three simple ways you can improve the operational efficiency of your senior care business:
- Use technology to improve hiring practices
When it comes to technology, businesses must be proactive or risk becoming irrelevant. The senior living industry has high levels of turnover (40-60 percent), especially among low-wage staff such as dietary workers, nursing assistants, housekeeping employees, and resident aides. In many cases, hiring is managed at a local level, with executive directors responsible for filling open positions. This creates a major administrative burden and takes away from executive staff members’ ability to focus on training employees and caring for residents.
When your local staff holds the hiring responsibility in a large operation, problems can result. You might find that you have 10 different facilities using 10 different hiring processes, creating inconsistency from facility to facility.
Using a centrally managed applicant tracking system (ATS) can streamline and simplify this process. The ATS largely automates posting, promoting, filtering, and assessing candidates, and helping to quickly hire and deploy workers. Plus, the ATS can automate the process of hiring for evergreen jobs with heavy turnovers, such as resident aides. Ideally, the ATS is integrated with a human resource information system (HRIS) to make the transition from candidate to employee simple, without having to enter duplicate information multiple times.
- Implement a scheduling system to control labor costs
Too many operators know this challenge well – shifts are scheduled, then come the changes. Maybe employees don’t show up, or they switch shifts with their counterparts, leaving supervisors scrambling to fill shifts, without awareness of bigger picture implications – namely, unexpected overtime. It’s a tough situation and it’s one that threatens both your resident experience and your bottom line. Labor costs are the biggest variable between profitability in senior care and operating at a loss-making it critical to prevent this issue.
Unexpected overtime is a big problem. Using a third-party staffing agency may fill gaps but is also costly. If your company isn’t using up-to-date scheduling software for ongoing visibility of employee hours and time scheduled for a pay period, these surprise cost overruns can occur. It’s critical to anticipate and mitigate these unwanted surprises before they happen. Modern scheduling software can provide real-time insight – offering shift visibility and flexibility.
By integrating a dynamic scheduling system into your operations, you can see the road ahead and understand the financial consequences of shift adjustments, while ensuring adequate staffing at all times.
- Take advantage of tax credits
Corporate tax credits are economic development subsidies that reduce a company’s tax liability by allowing it to deduct all or part of certain expenses from its income tax bill on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is available to for-profit companies that hire employees from certain eligible target groups that typically face significant barriers to employment, such as veterans and recipients of long-term unemployment or supplemental security income (SSI).
It’s easy to see how operators in a high turnover environment such as senior care might find this valuable. WOTC can be worth between $1,200 and $9,600 per employee, depending on the target group and the number of hours worked in the first year of employment. Employees must work at least 120 hours in the first year for employers to receive the credit.
The process for determining new hire eligibility and filing paperwork is best initiated through employee onboarding. The WOTC process can be complex but is simplified by working with a partner who specializes in the process. Consult your HR/payroll provider to learn more.
How senior living companies are operated and managed is the difference between a thriving business and one that’s just getting by. Small changes to your business operations can have a large impact. With the right processes, people, and technology, you can quickly improve both your financial outlook and resident care.
Brian Evans is Senior Care Practice Leader at Adams Keegan.