July 5, 2023

The True Cost of Employee Overtime in Healthcare

Employee overtime can affect more than your organization’s bottom line. It can impact employee morale, performance, and health, and it can even impact your patients. Making sure your organization tracks overtime can lead to improved employee satisfaction and a better bottom line for your organization.

Overtime effect on the workforce

Overtime has been shown to impact employee morale. In fact, overworked employees can feel frustrated and powerless, and because low morale spreads quickly among workers, it can impact productivity fast as well. For example, employees may intentionally work slower so they don’t feel taken advantage of.

Additionally, overtime contributes to stress and health problems for employees. Studies have shown that excessive overtime can reflect in employees’ poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and illness. Another problem that can occur from too much overtime is an increased risk of injuries and accidents among employees. Tired employees do not always use proper body mechanics and may be unable to focus on important tasks. For example, fatigue can make precision and concentration difficult, both of which could be detrimental to safety in situations like performing surgery or handling a needle.

Overtime effect on the office

Too much overtime can also influence both the office and the patients. Overworked employees may have attitudes that can impact their day-to-day communication techniques, potentially resulting in declining patient satisfaction, provider fatigue and burnout, poor staff morale, and higher rates of turnover. On a more serious level, healthcare research proves that too much employee overtime is linked to medical errors and other threats to patient safety.

Furthermore, nearly 70% of nurses agree that fatigue has caused them to worry about their ability to perform at work, and almost 100% report that they have felt tired when beginning their shift. Many nurses also believe that overtime is assigned more often than necessary.

Ways to reduce employee overtime

Clearly, overtime brings with it the potential for many negative effects. Fortunately, scheduling software from Intrigma can help healthcare organizations minimize overtime through a more balanced schedule.

One of the easiest ways to distribute work evenly among staff is by providing access to online scheduling. Allowing providers to see office staffing needs creates transparency and leads to increased staff buy-in. Simply put, providers are more willing to be flexible with scheduling if they can see the needs of the organization.

Scheduling software can optimize current staff too. You can analyze historical data to help determine how to best staff to meet patient demand. Maintaining a supply of “float” and PRN staff can help take the pressure off of your regular full-time staff. Additionally, scheduling software can help protect staff from fatigue and burnout by creating scheduling rules that protect circadian rhythms and prevent staff from working too many overnight shifts or long shifts.

You can also build provider preferences into the schedule. This is a good way to help maintain employee satisfaction. For example, if Provider A works the late rotation on Wednesday, you can create a rule that the same provider does not have to work the early rotation on Thursday. You may implement other rules too, such as not scheduling more than three overnight shifts in a row.

What’s next?

Employee overtime does more than impact the bottom line of your organization. By protecting staff from the stress and consequences of overtime, you can keep your office running smoothly and keep your patients safe and satisfied. To learn more about how scheduling software can help your organization avoid the pitfalls of overtime, contact Intrigma today.