Winter Pressures: Strategies for ensuring effective staffing during seasonal surges

Winter is here and with it will inevitably come winter pressures. 

A large part of the pressures that adult social care faces are related to the challenge of having enough staff in place during the winter.  Holidays, even when planned can cause chaos to a rota, and this can be made worse if there is any type of illness around.   

What can you do?  There will always be a need to use good temporary workers, but before incurring the expense and risk, other activities can also have a positive impact.      

Amplify your permanent and bank workers.  You can do this by offering incentives to your team, including admin and office staff who may want to pick up an extra shift here or there.  If you have an employee referral scheme – give it a big push and remind everyone to be on the lookout for talent.   

Pivot your admin team – and make sure there is a central point of contact co-ordinating bank staff.  Understanding who is available, when and where they can get to is critical to using your bank as efficiently as possible.  If they can get to a location but haven’t worked there before – consider doing an induction and any required training ahead of peak requirement times, so they are ready to go!   

Alternatively, consider external arrangements to centralise and manage bank staff.  Often bank staff are not used as efficiently as possible and removing local ownership of bank staff can have an impact during winter pressure times.   

One of the biggest challenges over the winter is last-minute cancellations and sickness.  To avoid this, make the agencies you work with understand your potential level of need, and that you have regularly agreed points of contact to update each other on any changes.     

Book temps as far ahead as possible.  This helps everyone; the agency, the temp, and managers to plan and organise to the best of their ability.  And don’t assume that all temps have the relevant and required documentation.  Make sure agencies are complying as they should so there are no nasty surprises during the winter pressure period.    

Encourage the recruitment agencies you use to target and train people who worked in retail and hospitality over Christmas as soon as possible; they could be your future workforce.  

While it’s a busy time which can be stressful – don’t forget to make the experience as organised and positive as possible for everyone involved.  Regular communication, good inductions, and clear instructions are important. Be sure to provide an overview of the people they will be supporting and what you are doing with residents if it is over the holiday period.  Thank, recognise, reward and support everyone as much as you can.   

At Cohesion, we understand the risks and necessities of temporary staff and manage recruitment agency exposure.  Our work is focused on reducing agency spend and amplifying your permanent and bank workforce pools. We support our clients to meet compliance needs where agency use is unavoidable.

Want to discuss your recruitment and workforce challenges? Click here to book a meeting with Amanda Marques, our Business Solutions Director.

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