Three hidden reasons why your OT costs are too high

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Bruce Baron
Bruce Baron


Many times it seems that revenues and expenses are going in opposite directions. That's why it's important to look for process improvement opportunities to improve the profitability of your community.

One such process opportunity is with coverage for staff call outs

Staff call outs invariably lead to a stressful time for schedulers, supervisors and executives. During the period of time between the call out and  the open shift being filled, productivity is sapped as the team calls staff – often begging and pleading – for someone to take the shift.  A VoiceFriend study indicated that the typical call out takes 2-3 hours to fill and invariably it is filled with a staff member working on overtime. 

Reasons for this inefficient and costly process include:

  • Communities do not have a large enough per diem staff and/or part time staff
  • Schedulers and supervisors do not use lists of employees that have not reached their overtime limit when contacting staff about open shifts.
  • Communities contact potential coverage staff with individual telephone calls.  And as a result give the shift to the first person who will accept the extra work without considering their overtime eligibility.

Some leading chains and local independent communities have devoted cross-functional teams to find a better way. Here are three process improvements that they have implemented:

  1. Increase the pool of per diem staff and if appropriate share such staff with other local affiliated communities.
  2. Provide your scheduler or supervisor with a listing of staff at or nearing their overtime limit and make sure these individuals are called only as a last resort.
  3. Use an automated solution to sequentially contact per diem employees, then part time and full time employees not at their overtime limit prior to full time, OT eligible staff.

Implementing these process improvement steps has allowed VoiceFriend customers to reduce the coverage for staff call outs process from 2-3 hours to 10-15 minutes and reduced overtime by up to 10%.

In these tough economic times, process improvements that make staff more productive and reduce overtime, can significantly impact your bottom line.

Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend.  He can be reached at or 781-996-3123.

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