Based in Minneapolis, Ecumen provides a range of senior housing options — from assisted living and short-term rehabilitation to long-term care and hospice — and manages a workforce of more than 3,000 employees at its 40 communities.
Gaining a clear view of scheduling across Ecumen’s 40 communities was nearly impossible, with the facilities using a mix of software solutions, spreadsheets, and paper to schedule team members. At communities that used paper schedules, if employees weren’t working when schedules were posted, they had to drive to the community to check their schedule.
In addition, if they wanted to request time off and their unit leader wasn’t
on site, they filled out paper time-off request slips and left them for their
unit leader to review. Disparity in granting PTO was a concern. Employees
sometimes questioned the timing of when requests were submitted and why requests weren’t granted.
The bonus structure for team members who picked up open shifts also created a situation where they sometimes negotiated an extremely high bonus — depending on the difficulty of filling a shift — adding unexpected labor costs.
Acknowledging that leadership and managers need visibility into team member schedules, by community and organizationwide, the Ecumen leadership team decided to centralize scheduling by adding UKG Workforce Scheduler to the organization's UKG® solutions in order to improve business outcomes and employee satisfaction and engagement.
Ecumen has implemented the advanced scheduling solution at 20 of its 40 communities, having completed these first implementations shortly before COVID-19 hit. Centralized staffing enables better management of the workforce, which represents about 70% of costs. Solution implementation at additional communities is planned.
"Whenever we can centralize something, there's going to be cost savings," says Hoa Flaa, Clinical Workforce Planning Manager at Ecumen. "We're not centralizing to decrease headcounts. We're centralizing to create visibility to the work, to create opportunities to grow."
"It's data that drives improvement. It helped me dig into what's happening so we could align the staffing level to match the census level. Without UKG, I would not have been able to collect these numbers."
Clinical Workforce Planning Manager
Ecumen posts 14,280 clinical shifts on a rolling 28-day period, and the centralized scheduling team fills 90% of approximately 3,500 open shifts during this time. When the open-shift fill rate reached 95% during one three-month period, a review of the data revealed the cause.
"It's data that drives improvement," said Flaa. "It helped me dig into what's happening so we could align the staffing level to match the census level. Without UKG, I would not have been able to collect these numbers."
She frequently runs the hours per patient day (HPPD) report in the UKG solution to determine clinical HPPD at each community relative to its care levels. This is helping Ecumen determine appropriate staffing numbers based on the care levels that a community provides and adjust staffing as needed. Data is an important driver of informed staffing decisions at the organization.
Another benefit Ecumen is seeing with the advanced scheduling solution is better reporting on shift-pickup bonuses. "I love UKG for this," shared Flaa. "We've been able to pull a lot of data to see not only if this month is running high on bonuses, but which communities and departments are driving this." Visibility into this information has enabled the organization to save 34% in open-shift bonus costs.
"When we create a [bonus] process that is visible, and we create standards that align and enforce it, we create equality for all our team members," added Flaa. This visibility and the awarding of fair and equitable bonuses are improving employee satisfaction and engagement.
Transparency about the PTO request and approval process is also supporting greater engagement. When a team member makes a time-off request in the UKG solution, the request has a date and time stamp, leaving no question about when a request was made. PTO is granted only if an employee has time available, and every denial includes a standardized comment about the reason, demonstrating accountability and fairness.
Equitable schedules and practices are critical to recruiting and retaining
team members, said Flaa. Ecumen is using data to influence its scheduling to better attract and retain quality team members, a strategy supported by the centralized scheduling solution.
Using the solution’s mobile app, team members can check their schedules
on a mobile device 24/7 and request time off and open shifts. Employees feel empowered with mobile scheduling at their fingertips.
Mobile and remote access to schedules and scheduling information was
beneficial during the pandemic for both team members working at a community and corporate team members working remotely. When COVID-19 sickened the leadership team at one community, Flaa was able to see the community’s open shifts in the centralized scheduling solution and utilize clinical team members provided by the state to fill these shifts until agency staff could fill in.
In assessing the immediate benefits Ecumen is seeing with its UKG solution,
Flaa cited Ecumen’s 90% open-shift fill rate, a decrease in bonus payments, and improved recruiting and retaining of employees. “These are quick wins that UKG technology has given us in helping manage change at this community, at this organization,” she said.
She expects there will be more wins. “There are benefits to using UKG, although they are not totally realized right now,” she noted. “It’s changing our culture. We are resetting the rebar to hold the structure up differently.”