Managing Your Per Diem Staff the Right Way

Per diem staff are an important part of an on-demand 24/7 service mentality in all kinds of businesses around the country. Per diem staff can fill in at crucial times in an organization’s workflow, providing a needed way to staff up as required by production. There are clear advantages to hospitals, particularly during a time of clinical staffing shortages and higher demand by patients for services.

But managing these employees takes a special understanding of their unique place in the healthcare ecosystem. What are the common challenges and solutions for per diem employees?

Solving Staffing Challenges with the Per Diem

Labor management is one of the most challenging roles HR managers undertake and call-offs or schedule changes by any staff member can create a disruption. When per diem nurses need to change their schedule, it can be a real problem for a hospital already struggling with their staffing needs. What about the per diem employee that calls off at the last minute or somehow becomes unreliable? It happens. But you certainly don’t want to cut the workers hours because they may file unemployment, which can drive up your rates.

Here are four solutions to your toughest per diem HR challenges:

  • First, you should treat the per diem employee like any other worker on the team. They should receive reviews and should fall under company disciplinary policies just like everyone else.
  • Second, along the same lines, make sure you document everything for the per diem employee in the same manner you would a full-time worker. This will help you reduce unemployment risk because you will be able to show documentation that the per diem worker called off just before their shift starter or perhaps was a no show or whatever behavior caused you to cut their hours. If the per diem resigns, ask for their resignation in writing, just like you would from any other employee. That way you can prove the change of status.
  • Third, make sure you have written policies reflecting your use of per diem employees. Adding a section into your employee handbook is important. We recommend writing up a section to handle if the per diem stops picking up shifts after a certain period of time (ninety days). That way, if they file unemployment, you have a documented policy in place that will likely help you win the unemployment case.
  • Finally, make sure you’re using per diem employees in the way they were intended. They are not full-time workers but instead designed as crucial fill-in workers periodically. Do not make the mistake of scheduling these workers consistently in a part-time or full-time position. Classifying and staffing incorrectly can cost you in the long run, so make sure you are periodically reviewing staffing schedules to spot any red flags like consistency in scheduling. If this is the case, convert the per diem to part- or full-time employment and offer them the benefits they deserve.

Per diem workers are the perfect fill-ins for staff vacation or illness. They can help healthcare facilities staff up during lean times. But there are rules to follow regarding how to manage these important team members. Talk with MAS Medical about the best way to leverage per diem talent. We can help.

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