In nursing, scheduling staffs while avoiding conflict is one of the challenges faced by a nurse leader. When arranging the work schedule, a nurse leader has to ensure that nurses do not have excessive overtime shifts as this will result in reduced work-life balance.

Effective communication is of paramount importance in nursing. Through receiving feedback from nurses, every leader in nursing departments can implement better scheduling. Here we will discuss how open communication between nurses and leaders can also play a part.

Ask nurses about their availability

The inclusion of nurses’ views and feedback are necessary before the nurse leader develops a schedule. Considering their personal commitments and responsibilities are things that must be factored in before beginning the schedule.

Similar in scheduling, they desire to provide feedback and allow their managers to use that feedback in order to build schedules that are going to benefit both staff and management. Here, the best way is by asking the nurse’s availability.

Feedback about the next schedule by delivering a message on smartphone apps, asking clearly who requires off-days and which particular days. In doing so, all the staffs in one unit will receive the same information, be notified on certain important reminders and finally avoid any conflicts in scheduling.

Simplify the scheduling process

Once everyone has responded, the nurse leader may simplify her work by notifying everything important in paper or spreadsheets. Whenever she wants to switch it to an online scheduling software, she needs to ensure that everything is placed accordingly.

When all staff nurses can view the schedule, this allows them to check if there is any mistake. For nurses who are suddenly in need of a day-off – this is an ideal time for them to request for a change in shift. In fact, giving these options will save the nurse leader’s time as she does not need to initiate and mediate every possible shift trade.

Rather, she will be able to let her nurses make trade requests by themselves. Then, the only thing she has to do is respond to the viable request.

Obtain nurses’ feedback on the scheduling system

The online scheduling system is a new online tool that operates three functions at one time, which are self-scheduling, shift-posting and shift-bidding. With that, it allows more flexibility, choices and control in defining the schedule and working extra shifts.

Once the organisation has clearly defined the staffs’ availability and needs, the tool will work by increasing the number of staffs needed to cover the shifts.

Eventually, the organisation is less likely to require overtime or assign staffs or units that do not typically work. Additionally, shift bidding in some cases enables staffs to earn a higher hourly rate for working extra shifts. This will subsequently influence staff satisfaction and job retention. In fact, some online scheduling systems allow organisations to weigh staffing costs, as this finally give nurse leaders better information to make last-minute staffing decisions that can affect the budget and quality of patient care.

In brief, a good schedule is one that works for everyone. It begins with communication between you and your nurses. By including their opinions and feedbacks, the scheduling process would be better and easier. Better scheduling not only improves staffs’ attendance but give nurses more independence while taking time-off at the same time. MIMS

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Teamwork in nursing: How to be a team player in your unit
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