Three Ways Collaborative Staffing Delivers Real Cost Savings

Last post, we talked about how Collaborative Staffing is a joint effort between managers and staff to fill open shifts in a way that meets patient care needs and takes employee skills and preferences into account. While some of the most visible outcomes are increased staff engagement and satisfaction, collaborative staffing can help health systems achieve their most pressing corporate goals.

Here are three ways Collaborative Staffing can help provide tangible business results and real cost savings:

1. Better leverage internal resources before turning to premium labor

Because Collaborative Staffing involves looking at and meeting staffing needs enterprise-wide, all of the organization’s internal staffing resources can be utilized more effectively. Managers can make more data-driven staffing decisions about how to fill staffing holes in their unit, and direct-care staff can find and fill available shifts that they are qualified to work in other units.

One example of Collaborative Staffing in action is Hillcrest HealthCare System. Realizing that they were spending too much on premium labor, the team at Hillcrest used technology to enable the standardization of their staffing practices across six facilities and the expansion of their internal resource pool. That integration and automation yielded $2 million in savings annually. Learn more about how they did it.

2. Engage staff and enlist them as part of the solution

Open shift management can be challenging and time-consuming. Furthermore, when staffing is done from the top down and leads to dissatisfiers such as mandatory overtime and forced floating, staff morale can be impacted.  This is especially true if staff feel like they don’t have a voice in the process.

Collaborative Staffing empowers staff to be a part of the solution as they are actively engaged in the filling of open shifts. Staff appreciate having more control over their own schedule as data transparency enables them to pick up shifts based on their skills, availability and preferences. When staff are empowered to fill open shifts, supply (available staff) and demand (open shifts) can self-establish equilibrium, enabling the open shifts to be filled by staff that are ready, willing and able to meet the need.

That employee engagement can help boost HCAHPS scores. Hospitals scoring in the top 10% of employee engagement scored an average of 61 percentile points higher on the HCAHPS Overall Hospital Rating metric than hospitals in the bottom 10% for employee engagement.1

3. Boost recruitment and retention 

Staff turnover is costly. For example, a conservative estimate states that it can cost $82,000 to replace a single nurse, taking into account vacancy costs, training and orientation costs, reduced productivity of the newly hired nurse, and advertising/recruiting costs.2

Empowering employees in areas that have traditionally caused dissatisfaction can help reduce turnover. A HealthLeaders article identified five reasons that nurses want to leave their jobs3, and Collaborative Staffing can help address four of those five issues:

1 – Mandatory overtime: Instead of requiring employees to work overtime, collaborative staffing engages nurses in the process of filling open shifts. That’s a win/win as shifts are covered cost-effectively and staff have more control over their own schedule.

2 – Floating to other unit: When mandated by management, floating is often viewed negatively by staff. However, when staff have a voice in when and where they float, it can often be viewed as a perk rather than a burden. A key element of a Collaborative Staffing model is self-directed floating, where staff can see which open shifts they are qualified to work in both their own unit and other units throughout the organization. Then, staff decide for themselves which eligible, open shift they want to pick up.

3 – Non-nursing tasks: Collaborative Staffing is based on meeting patient care needs. That means that each shift can be staffed with the caregivers that can best meet patient care needs based on staff experience, skill sets and competencies, which sets the stage for staff to work up to their license as support staff covers non-nursing tasks.

4 – Bad managers: Even a good manager can become a bad manager when they are stretched thin and spending their valuable time doing administrative work. Collaborative Staffing reduces the time managers spend on staffing busywork, giving them more time to spend with their staff and their patients.

Collaborative Staffing creates a culture of empowerment that delivers tangible business results. Employees are more satisfied and staffing needs are filled more efficiently and cost effectively.  It’s an innovative approach that is driving cost reductions and positively impacting outcomes in healthcare organizations nationwide.  To learn more about collaborative staffing, please check out our Insights in 20 webinar, “Collaborative Staffing: How Open Shift Management Fulfills Needs.”



1“Every Voice Matters: The Bottom Line on Employee and Physician Engagement.” Press Ganey, 2013.
2 Jones, CB. Revisiting Nurse Turnover Costs: Adjusting for Inflation. Journal of Nursing Administration, 38, no 1 (2008): 15.
3Hendren, Rebecca. “5 Reasons Nurses Want to Leave Your Hospital.” HealthLeaders Media. Accessed September 4, 2015.

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