Talent Tuesday: 5 Benefits Of Flexible Work Strategies In Healthcare

By Derek Jones, VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas, Deputy
Twitter: @deputyapp

Flexible work wasn’t such a big part of healthcare pre-Covid. However, since the pandemic outbreak, the industry has been forced to make some changes and implement flexible work strategies to meet increasing demands.

On top of that, there has been a global shortage of healthcare workers. As a result, recruiting and retaining them turned out to be quite challenging. Offering flexible work schedules became the new norm for clinics that want to retain their staff and offer a higher level of patient care.

Let’s look at how flexible working can benefit all parties – the healthcare facility, the staff, and the patients.

Common flexible work types in healthcare

Here are some of the most common types of flexible work schedules you’ll see in healthcare facilities:

Location flexibility
Not all medical staff is able to work remotely -it’s inevitable that you’ll need on-site medical staff responsible for emergencies and medical procedures.

However, since the Covid-19 outbreak, telehealth and telemedicine practices have become a must. In this scenario, you might be able to offer remote work opportunities to your staff.

Take advantage of healthcare technology solutions to streamline telehealth services and improve the patient experience.

Scheduling flexibility
Scheduling flexibility in terms of shifts or days worked is essential for staff retention and constant shift coverage.

A healthcare scheduling software that automates shift filling, allows employees to swap shifts and last-minute replacements can be beneficial for the employees’ work flexibility. With a tool like that, your staff has an overview of their schedules and they can organize their working days or shifts how it best fits them.

Work hours flexibility
Letting your employees choose their working hours offers additional flexibility and agility to your clinic.

It’s expected from certain staff profiles to be on-site during office hours (for example, a physician, front desk, etc.), but you can allow work hours flexibility to staff with back-end, non-patient-related job tasks.

Hybrid models
Hybrid models are often a mixture of traditional in-office days and remote workdays. Keep in mind many forms of hybrid work models – there isn’t only one hybrid model to follow. You should make sure to build a hybrid model according to your clinic’s needs.

5 benefits of flexible work in healthcare

By implementing flexible work strategies in your healthcare facility, both the employees and the clinic as an employer will feel many benefits. Additionally, this will benefit your patients too.

Here’s what you can expect:

1. An improved work-life balance
According to a 2021 Frontline Health Care Workers Survey by KFF and The Washington Post, an incredible 55% out of 1,327 front-line health care workers in the United States reported burnouts during Covid.

The same research shows that 62% of those front-line workers felt that the pandemic harmed their mental health.

The need for a better work-life balance is obvious, and that’s where flexible schedules come to the rescue. Flexible work will allow your employees to have a life outside of work and schedule their job around their personal lives, not the other way around.

2. Increased productivity and engagement
With a better work-life balance, you’ll automatically boost the engagement and productivity of your medical staff.

According to the 2021 Gartner Digital Worker Experience Survey, flexible work hours are the biggest reason for increased productivity (43% of respondents). Additionally, 30% of the respondents said that less or no time spent commuting also boosted their productivity.

If you’re able to afford any type of flexibility in your staff’s schedules, do it – it will positively affect your clinic’s productivity and engagement rates.

3. Better recruitment and retention
Offering flexible work schedules will improve your reach and increase your talent pool of available staff to hire. By offering flexible working, you’ll gain access to remote staff, part-time workers, and freelance or contract staff.

Your retention rate should also be higher since scheduling flexibility improves your staff’s work-life balance and job satisfaction levels.

4. Constant shift coverage
Effective workforce planning is the key to proper shift coverage.

Scheduling flexibility, including allowing and encouraging practices like shift swapping, is the best way to plan your workforce in a way that ensures consistent shift coverage.

When planning your schedules you should consider:

  • In-office and telehealth patient needs
  • Working hours of your facility
  • Employees’ PTO

5. Higher levels of patient care
We already mentioned that flexible work will result in better productivity and staff engagement. By boosting your employees’ productivity and ensuring 24/7 staff coverage, you’re automatically increasing the level of patient care your facility provides.

Patient outcomes and the level of care your facility provides depend largely on your staff’s effort, preparedness, and engagement.

To wrap up

Although flexible work in healthcare was once frowned upon, now it’s nothing less than a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

When it comes to the type of flexible work strategy, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Adjust flexible schedules according to your services, operating hours, staff coverage, and all other specific needs of your clinic.

All in all, the benefits of flexible work strategies are numerous, and they’re more than evident. As a healthcare facility aiming to stay competitive and retain quality staff, encouraging flexible work schedules could be the best step you take.