Asking nurses to work overtime might seem fairly standard at your medical facility. But, all those extra hours can lead to low employee morale, poor quality patient care, and lower employee retention rates. In fact, the longer the shifts for hospital nurses, the higher the levels of nurse burnout and patient dissatisfaction, which will damage your hospital’s reputation. As a manager, you need to have a reliable, accurate way of managing your staff’s overtime to make sure patient care and your employees don’t suffer as a result. Use these tips to manage nurse overtime, so you can keep your employees healthy and satisfied with their work.
Collect Data on Employee Overtime
Managing staff overtime is nearly impossible unless you have some concrete numbers to work with. That’s why it’s crucial for nurse managers like yourself to use software and digital timesheets for tracking how much time employees are spending on the floor. All of your employee’s hours should be logged in this system with clear hour totals that show you if an employee is working overtime. You can even set up alerts that tell you if someone is going beyond their normal allotted hours.
Make a point to encourage all your nurses to report their hours using this system. If someone has to work a few extra hours until a relief worker arrives, they need to report it on their timesheet. Some overachieving employees may not report their hours just to make a good impression, but this strategy isn’t sustainable. Enforce the rules and keep your eyes on your employee’s work schedule.
Set Up a Cap on Overtime Hours
Putting a cap on overtime hours might seem easier said than done, but if you place clear restrictions on overtime hours, your staff members will see the difference. Some of your nurses may depend on these overtime hours for the extra pay, but with these restrictions in place, you will set the precedent that balance is important. Your nurses will know that they won’t be pushed to the limit, so they can enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
Hire On-Call Nurses
If you keep running into nursing shortages, it might be time to hire on-call nurses that only come in when you need an extra hand. This way you won’t have to keep nagging your primary nurses to stay late. You’ll always have a few extra employees on your list that you can depend on when you’re in a jam. These employees may welcome the unpredictable, part-time schedule as they gain valuable experience or supplement their income with an extra shift here and there.
Establish Overtime Rotation
Having access to reliable overtime data helps you avoid overworking your employees. Some nurses may have no problem with staying late or working extra but asking the same person to make this sacrifice can lead to burnout and inefficiencies in the workplace. If you need to ask someone to stay late, establish a routine for overtime rotation, so the same nurse isn’t staying late every time.
Respond to Worker Shortages
Of course, the best way to avoid overworking your employees is to hire enough nurses in the first place. Hospitals are large organizations with many slots to fill and staying on top of worker shortages can be an uphill challenge, but you need to make sure your bases are covered if you want your facility to run smoothly. You should also make a point to hire nurses with consistency on their resumes, not workers that change jobs every few months.
Change the Culture
Some managers and facilities openly or subtlety encourage their employees to work late and not complain, but working overtime should not be mandatory. You shouldn’t pressure your employees to stay late, especially if they’re short on sleep or they have personal responsibilities to take care of. This will only limit their performance on the job. Instead, create a culture where nurses feel that their needs and rights are valued.
Keep tabs on who’s working late, hire strong candidates, and make sure you have enough nurses in the queue. Working in healthcare doesn’t automatically mean working overtime. Follow these tips to help your nurses find more satisfaction in their work.