What’s the Secret to Employee Engagement?

Engagement is an employee’s emotional commitment to your organization and its goals. When engagement is unlocked, it leads to higher productivity, cost reductions, and retention.

True commitment is a two-way street. What are you doing to earn it and how can you reciprocate? MITC offers a variety of tools to help your organization drive engagement:

  1. Get off to a good start: Create a positive impression with new hires with myApplicantsHireForms Onboarding, and myTraining. Organize your new hires, save time and money, and create a good impression!
  2. Stay in touch: myCommunications is a must for any organization with remote employees. Send messages to all employees, groups of employees, or individuals with read-receipt verification.
  3. Scheduling: Customers report that employees love the ability to see open shifts and request extra work. Read this interview with a customer to learn more.
  4. Self-service: Make sure your managers respond to attendance, PTO, and schedule requests in a timely manner. Use myAlerts to remind busy managers in case they get distracted.
  5. myMITC Home Page: Use the home page to market your organization to your employees and keep them informed.
  6. Thank You’s: Use the automated “Thank You For Working On A Holiday”, “Happy Birthday”, and “Happy Anniversary” greetings to show employees that you care!
  7. Automated Reminders: Help your managers succeed with myAlerts automated reminders.
  8. Training: Employees value training. Use myTraining to help employees enroll in classes and receive automated reminders on their training and license requirements. Another benefit? Make sure your organization is in compliance!
  9. Safety: Employees need to be safe and protected. Use mySafetyManager to organize drills, inspections and track repair requests.
  10. Lone workers: Use myCheckIn to ensure staff and clients are ok in vulnerable situations such as overnight shifts.

Do Providers Need Another EHR Software to Evaluate?

In 2019, several CEO’s at different agencies in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania asked me essentially the same question:

 “Why don’t you have an EHR?”

I gave the same answer I have given for many years.

Agency Workforce Management is about Time & Attendance, Documentation, Scheduling, Payroll Integration, Billing, HR, Training – everything about managing staffAnyway, there are lots of good EHR products out there. What’s wrong with what you have?”

The answer I got surprised me:

“Our EHR is fine but it does too much; It’s too expensive and complicated. We need something straightforward and inexpensive – why don’t you make us something?”

So that’s what we have done!

At ANCOR in late April, MITC will unveil Client Profiles – the latest addition to Agency Workforce Management!

When MITC contacted providers late last year to float the idea, we got a positive response. Many providers applied to join an Early Adopter Program, ten of which have been selected. These providers will collaborate with MITC and work directly with our agency software developers once a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is created. This will help MITC ensure v.1, due for general release in June 2020 and v.2, due for release in October 2020, are closely aligned with agency needs and priced right. During 2020, MITC will commit agile software development resources to respond rapidly to provider needs with the goal of wrapping up the bulk of the development by the end of quarter 3 2020.

Three developers in the USA will be working on this project. They have a lot of experience in creating great software for agencies, and we know they will do as good a job as they did with mySchedules in 2018-2019.

Because of all the activity associated with EVV, MITC was reluctant to make this investment at this point in time. However, MITC’s market research found that many of the providers most effected by EVV were exactly the sort of providers who could benefit from “EHR light”. MITC has hired additional staff to provide extra support services for EVV.

We don’t intend to go head-to-head with full service EHR products. Client Profiles will be designed for providers managing HCBS and Day and Vocational programs whose EHR needs are more limited than providers managing ICF’s, large group homes, or intensive supported living programs.

We will also price position Client Profiles in the “cheap and cheerful” range: straightforward to use, functional, and relatively inexpensive compared to other, more complex EHR systems.

Hopefully, along with existing applications like myCommunications and Documentation, Client Profiles will prove to be of value to many agencies. All of here at MITC are excited to find out.

John Graham
MITC CEO and Software Architect

DSP’s Should Be Paid At Least 125% of Minimum Wage

In order to attract caregivers, Maine’s labor commission is calling for something radical: a requirement to ensure they’re paid at least 125% of the state’s existing minimum wage.

Overall, state-mandated minimum wage hikes have become somewhat commonplace in recent years. At least 21 states, for example, started 2020 with higher minimum wages than the previous year.

A legally mandated home care-specific boost to a given minimum wage, however, is a relatively new concept. However it is a long standing tradition Australia where the minimum wage is set by profession. Direct care workers earn $18.82 an hour to $22.84 depending upon skills plus overtime after 38 hours.

Maine’s Commission to Study Long-term Care Workforce Issues, a group established in 2019 to study direct care labor shortages, shared its recommendation in a new report.

The Maine legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to push forward accompanying legislation that would back the proposal on the same day.

Raising caregiver wages is just one of a number of recommendations made by the commission.

The group also called for a public service campaign that promotes direct care worker jobs as a viable career option, industry-specific state-sponsored job fairs, direct care worker training and education programs, and student loan repayment eligibility. The commission also recommended the creation of a long-term care workforce oversight committee.

In addition to the previously mentioned plans, the long-term care commission also called for an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates to better reflect providers’ costs. Nationwide, the delivery of home care is becoming more expensive, propelled upward by minimum wage hikes, more paid-time-off rules, electronic visit verification (EVV) requirements and background checks.

While the Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine was supportive of the proposal, it did so partially under the notion that home care wages would rise in tandem with reimbursement rates. If that didn’t happen, a caregiver floor wage of 125% of Maine’s minimum wage would likely prove catastrophic for home care providers.

Just last week, the Maine-based nonprofit Home Care for Maine announced it would be closing its doors in April due to financial troubles brought on by a recent minimum wage raise. The shutdown will leave almost 600 patients without home care.

In 2017, Maine’s minimum wage increased from $7.50 to $9.00; it then spiked to $10.00 in 2018 and to $11.00 the following year. Currently, the state’s minimum wage is $12.00, a result of another hike in 2020.

For context, 125% of Maine’s 2020 minimum wage would mean a caregiver baseline of at least $15 an hour.

5 Ways Providers Use Incentive Plans to Improve Performance

Incentive plans can help an agency boost its performance and improve quality of care by motivating employees and managers to increase their efforts toward achieving agency goals. For example, if any agency wants to maximize client care authorizations, it may offer employees a bonus if they are able to reduce their non-billable hours.

In order for an incentive plan to work, the provider must have measurable, self-financing plans that deliver major, identifiable benefits to the agency. The defined goals should be achievable for at least half of your workforce. Such goals might include:

  • Staff-wide behavior changes
  • Greater accountability
  • Overtime reductions
  • Increased billing and productivity

Providers across the country have achieved these objectives (and many more) from their incentive plans. The following examples of incentive plan models are based on real experiences.

Objective 1: Control Overtime

Overtime costs in group homes and HCBS programs have been rising in recent years due to the labor shortage. While you may never eliminate overtime completely, an incentive plan can help you reduce it. Overtime control plans provide a continual reminder that minimizing overtime is always important and shares the savings with those who did the most to make a difference.

To measure your progress, it is important to have a time & attendance system that provides detailed overtime reports. Also, managers should use a scheduling solution that can highlight available employees already in or approaching overtime.

To control overtime through an incentive plan, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the average level of overtime in all locations (including pay periods with holidays when overtime is usually higher).
  2. Decide on a goal, such as reducing overtime by 5 percent.
  3. After implementing the plan, calculate the total payroll savings from the reduced overtime levels (don’t forget to deduct any additional software costs acquired to implement this plan).
  4. Re-distribute a portion of the payroll savings to the managers whose locations had the least amount of overtime.

Objective 2: Increase Revenue

Many HCBS programs involve authorizations and budget caps. But some providers may fail to maximize the authorization or, even worse, exceed the authorization. An incentive plan focused on increasing revenue, with the help of integrated time & attendance and scheduling solutions, will encourage managers and staff to maximize authorizations without exceeding them.

To increase revenue through an incentive plan, follow these steps:

  1. Divide each authorization into manageable periods, like weeks or months. During each period, track the percentage of authorizations that are under-served or over-served.
  2. Be sure to compare scheduled hours and actual service hours to the authorization. Any goals achieved by unscheduled overtime should be ineligible for reward.
  3. Give a portion of the extra/saved revenue back to the managers with the least under/overruns.

Objective 3: Increase Productivity

Staff who work in HCBS programs often need to travel between clients. Since travel time is non-billable, providers need to keep it to a minimum. To do this, providers use smart scheduling solutions to map out shifts for minimum travel time and an automated time & attendance solution to track billable vs. non-billable hours. But sometimes, a little incentive can help managers use these tools more effectively.

For example, a provider in New York noticed that staff were spending a lot of time on non-billable travel around Long Island. So the agency promised a bonus to managers who could reduce travel time by adjusting schedules and routes. The plan worked. Through simple schedule changes and route-mapping, the agency significantly reduced non-billable travel time.

To increase productivity through an incentive plan, follow these steps:

  1. Track billable vs. non-billable hours for a month. This is your baseline.
  2. Ask managers to try reducing non-billable hours through scheduling and route-mapping. Track their progress for another month.
  3. Give a portion of the savings back to the managers who reduced non-billable hours by the highest percentage.

Objective 4: Strengthen Time & Attendance Compliance

Reliable attendance is crucial for agencies, especially when one employee’s tardiness turns into another’s overtime. While employees may occasionally forget to clock in or out, 95% of an organization’s attendance records should be correct. An incentive plan encourages prompt attendance and reduces the risk of fraud.

To strengthen time & attendance compliance through an inventive plan, offer bonuses, gift cards, staff lunches, or other special recognition to employees with perfect attendance in a given period (no missed punches, no edits, no late arrivals or early departures). Even better, if you reward employees in groups (i.e. the entire group home staff must have perfect attendance to receive a bonus) they will encourage each other to be on time.

Objective 5: Hire and Retain Qualified Staff

One of the best sources for recruiting is an agency’s own staff. Employees often know of others in the same field who might be interested in a new opportunity, and they can speak to their character. Incentive plans can motivate them to reach out to their network and guide them toward agency job openings.

To hire and retain qualified staff through an incentive plan, offer referral bonuses, track retention by manager, and reward managers who have the highest retention rates over a quarter.

Summary

Performance incentives are designed to influence behavior and result in positive gains for the agency. When implemented correctly, incentive plans can bring measurable improvements to consumer care, like reliable attendance, long-term relationships with faithful employees, and fully-utilized authorizations.

However, an organization needs effective tracking methods to implement an incentive program. If you would like to learn how your organization can reliably track time & attendance compliance, overtime by individual/group, client authorization utilization, billable vs. non-billable hours, and more, reach out to info@mitcsoftware.com.

Quiz for HR Professionals

This short quiz helps determine which workforce management solution best fits the needs of your agency, from an HR perspective.

Human Resources professionals have a surprising amount of insight into the health of an agency. You regularly work to increase hiring and retention success. You may manage employee training and payroll. And you often get a glimpse into time & attendance, billing, and even scheduling. If anything is amiss, you are usually among the first to notice.

Take the quiz to test your knowledge of the agency and learn where you may have a weak spot.

How Agencies Cope with Inclement Weather Article

How Agencies Cope with Inclement Weather

As the warm weather clears up and gives way to the cold, providers start to plan for inclement weather. Will the snow and ice cause road closures, power outages, or slippery conditions this winter? How can we prepare ahead of time?

Weather is a bigger concern for some areas than others. For example, last winter sent four nor’easters whirling through New England, causing mass power outages, cancelling flights, and creating dangerous or impossible driving conditions. Providers in the affected areas had to scramble to alert their staff of closures, delays, schedule changes, and special accommodations.

For those in warmer areas, conditions like hurricanes, tornadoes, or high wind can also disrupt regular services. Regardless of the climate, all providers should have a system in place to send immediate communications to the staff.

Bad “Solutions” to Inclement Weather Alerts

Many providers have already adopted systems to deal with inclement weather (and similar emergencies). However, these solutions require a lot of time and resources, and they are usually ineffective.

system in place to send immediate communications to the staff. Bad “Solutions” to Inclement Weather Alerts

Providers will often reach out to staff by phone in the event of emergency weather conditions. Some providers keep a big list of staff cell phone numbers; when the weather strikes, managers pull out the list and start a phone campaign to reach everyone. Other providers set up an old-fashioned phone tree, where managers call a small pool of employees, who are then responsible for calling several more, who are then responsible for calling several more, until the entire agency has been contacted.

Both of these phone methods have several problems. First, they are inordinately time-consuming. If an agency has 100 employees, and each phone call takes about 2 minutes, it will take four managers almost an hour to contact everyone. That can increase to multiple hours if the agency is larger, if fewer managers are available to sit at their phones, or if employees lengthen the phone calls by asking questions. Providers rarely have that much time to spare in emergency conditions.

Another problem with these phone methods is that they are hard to maintain. In a high turnover industry, managers have to remember to update the phone lists constantly. One error could make the whole system fall apart. Also, in the case of the phone tree, managers cannot confirm that all employees receive a call. One person in the tree may get distracted and forget to call the others, creating a big hole.

The last thing providers need is extra stress during a weather emergency. Instead of phone campaigns, they need a faster, more reliable way to contact employees.

A Better Way to Communicate

automated alert systemAn automated alert system, such as Agency Workforce Management’s eNotify, eliminates the problems of a phone campaign. Instead of a mass network of phone calls, a manager can send just one alert to everyone within seconds. Alternatively, the manager can send alerts to specific groups of people; for example, if a notification only affects group home staff, the rest of the agency will not receive it. The benefit of eNotify is that it saves time – allowing employees to take action more quickly – and it eliminates the burden of maintaining contact lists.

Since eNotify is so easy and convenient, agency staff can receive quick “heads-up” alerts, even in non-emergency situations. For instance, if the weather report threatens snow but the forecast is uncertain, managers can send weather updates and coordinate next steps ahead of the storm. A phone call system is too cumbersome to handle this much communication.

With eNotify, providers can also ensure that employees receive up-to-date information straight to their smart phones. They do not have to worry that an employee will miss a call and forget to check voicemail, or that someone will forget to call someone else.

Take Communication to the Next Level

eNotify’s limitation is that it only supports one-way communication. While that is fine for many providers, some prefer real conversations. Maybe a few employees are better prepared to brave the elements than others, and they can offer to cover extra shifts. Or perhaps managers want staff to send updates about certain areas. Whatever the case for two-way communication, Agency Workforce Management has a solution.

myCommunications is a multi-way communication platform that is secure and accessible remotely. By facilitating the exchange of information among all employees in a secure, HIPAA-compliant way, myCommunications keeps staff connected on administrative, personal, or individual care-related issues.

No one can control the weather, but providers can control their emergency weather procedures. When the weather is bad, staff need to receive updates and instructions right away; managers can provide information immediately and can send as many updates as necessary with an automated alert system. This ensures that services continue despite the elements.

Why We Resist Technology in the Workplace

People have been resisting technological advances for hundreds of years. Nowadays, we wonder why people ever avoided mechanical farming equipment or doubted the usefulness of personal computers. But as far as we venture back into the history of technology, someone is always hesitant to adopt something new, even if it simplifies their work. The human services industry is no exception to this.

Here are a few common reasons agency staff resist technology and some considerations to ease any doubts you may have:

“It’s Not the Way We Do Things”

Many are wary to introduce technology into their workflow because it means change. Change is hard. Especially when it means moving away from familiar tools like pen and paper and Excel spreadsheets toward the unknown complexities of technology. But if an organization cannot adapt to anything new, it will not thrive.

Workforce management technology is designed to make things easier for an organization. After the initial shock of unfamiliarity passes, you will find that the new way of doing things is simpler and more streamlined. Instead of typing all your time and attendance data into the payroll system, you can import it in seconds.

“Implementation Takes Too Long”

Technology implementation can be a pain, especially in large agencies set in their ways. But the truth is, implementation does not have to take forever.

The biggest barrier to a successful implementation is poor staff compliance. This can occur when managers and executives do not clearly describe the benefits of the new technology or provide adequate training. Most implementation snafus are easily avoidable with a strong compliance plan. As an example, read the story of an agency in Pennsylvania that fully implemented a new time and attendance system in a few weeks.

“We Can’t Afford It”

If you look at the dollar expense of new technology, you may be tempted to write it off. Who needs another cost when resources are already strained? But the truth is that technology has high potential for return-on-investment.

If you have trouble visualizing the long-term savings of effective technology, consider the ways technology saves money:

  • Time – Technology reduces data entry and other manual tasks that eat time. The people who previously performed those tasks can focus their efforts on more meaningful work.
  • Productivity – Agencies can achieve higher goals with technology. Workforce management software can produce complex results and analyze them in minutes to tell you how to maximize the organization’s potential.
  • Employee retention – Technology gives employees more access to their work and more power over their benefits. This helps them stay engaged and happy in the organization.

When implemented correctly, technology can save your organization far more than it costs up front. For more tips, read this eBook and learn six best practices for introducing new technology in your organization.

Your Billing Integration Options with Agency Workforce Management

Could a typo cost you thousands of dollars? When it comes to Medicaid audits, yes. If your organization manually enters data into a billing system, it is not only wasting time but also making itself vulnerable to costly errors.

But data entry is not the only option. Billing integration software ensures billing accuracy and speeds up the billing process by importing time and attendance records directly to your billing software. The software automates calculations, tracks state requirements, and gives your billing system all the information it needs for compliance. It also lets you off the hook for hours of data entry.

Integrate with Your Billing Software

Providers have significantly more options to manage payroll and billing with Agency Workforce Management than with any other software vendor. Agency Workforce Management provides revenue cycle management for many billing systems, including:

  • Amber Clinic
  • Annkissam
  • EZClaim
  • Fund E-Z
  • HSys
  • Millin
  • OnTarget
  • PrecisionCare

Direct exports are also available to a number of state systems and EVV data aggregators.

Additionally, Agency Workforce Management can import data from EHR providers such as Therap and Foothold to reconcile billing with time and attendance. This works with attendance records from Agency Workforce Management or records imported from any other time and attendance system such as ADP or Kronos.

 

Don’t Forget About Payroll Integration

Which payroll service do you use? No matter what it is, it will integrate with our software. Agency Workforce Management can speak to any existing payroll system, period. This means that the same advantages of billing integration – like time savings and error avoidance – can apply to your payroll process, too.

Time Theft: An Agency’s Secret Payroll Expense

When most people hear about company theft, they picture an employee smuggling monitors home or padding expense reports. Most people do not think about the often subtle act of time theft. Perpetrators may consider it a harmless way to maximize time off the clock, but it can severely hurt an organization in the long run.

What is Time Theft?

An employee commits time theft by accepting pay for time not worked. They can do this either by working the payroll rounding rules or by fudging timesheets. For example, if Elise is paid in 15-minute increments, she could clock in 7 minutes late and clock out 7 minutes early without receiving a penalty. Employees who fill out paper timesheets have even more opportunities to record false hours.

A little stolen time, which is not a big deal, turns into a big deal over time. If Elise continues her habit of stealing 7 minutes on both ends of the day for 5 days, she will have over an hour of stolen time. In the course of a year (assuming she works 5 days a week), that adds up to about 60 hours. With a $15/hour pay rate, the total value of her stolen time will hit approximately $900. If Elise is not the only employee to do this – if perhaps 30 employees do the same thing – the stolen time value skyrockets to $27,000.

Wondering if you need to worry about time theft in your organization? Well, time theft is more widespread than you may think. The American Society of Employers estimates 20% of every dollar earned by a US company is lost to employee time theft. Furthermore, the American Payroll Association says 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching, the most widespread form of time theft.

Factors that Encourage Time Theft

Agencies can inadvertently encourage time theft in several ways. These three factors are not the only causes of time theft, but they are the most prevalent.

Paper timesheets

Paper timesheets provide no security. It is incredibly easy for employees to write fraudulent times. Even if they do not intentionally steal time, they may not realize how much they round and how quickly it adds up.

Poor employee engagement

Unengaged employees are not interested in their work or the good of the company. If presented with the opportunity to work less without suffering wage loss, their disinterest in the company may fuel their temptation to take the opportunity.

Poor scheduling 

If an employee is overworked, has too little time between shifts to take a proper break, or is scheduled when unavailable, the employee is more likely to show up late for work or take extended breaks. This type of time theft is not always malicious – overtired employees may just have a hard time staying on schedule.

How to Prevent Time Theft

If you realize that your agency enables time theft, you can take several simple steps to reverse the error.

Biometrics

Biometric devices, such as fingerprint readers, eliminate all kinds of fraud. Buddy punching is impossible,  unless someone has detachable fingers, and so is lying since biometrics record the exact punch time. Fingerprint readers can also operate without an internet connection, so employees cannot make excuses about poor connectivity for missing an attendance record.

Management alerts

Automated alerts help managers detect time theft at the earliest signs. An effective time and attendance solution will notify managers when an employee clocks in late, clocks out early, or takes too long of a break. Since a few of these instances are permissible, an effective solution will also run reports on attendance records over time so managers can see whether certain employees have more offenses than others.

Engagement efforts

Re-engaging disinterested employees will do wonders for time and attendance compliance. If you suspect time theft in your agency, provide contexts to evaluate employee engagement. Maybe your employees don’t understand the larger purpose of their work, so they are looking for ways to get out early. Or maybe they don’t have enough paid time off, so they feel burnt out. The results of an employee engagement survey might reveal the underlying reasons for time theft at your agency.

Effective scheduling

schedules

A scheduling solution should have more functionality than pen and paper. It should filter available employees by availability, preferences, and hours so managers don’t overload one person while another begs for more work. Good scheduling software will also ensure employees have enough break time between shifts and sufficient travel time between locations.

Conclusion

Time theft is a nearly-invisible cost on your agency’s payroll that can hinder organizational growth and employee morale. But solutions do exist to help your agency spot time theft and stop it at the source. A productivity increase of 20% is worth the effort!

Infographic: The Workforce Crisis in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has faced a caregiver shortage for years, but the crisis continues to grow in severity.  A group of Wisconsin health care organizations conducted a study this year to examine the current state of the workforce crisis.

These results were gathered by the Wisconsin Health Care Association, the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living, the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association, LeadingAge Wisconsin, and the Disability Service Provider Network.

Infographic: The Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis in Wisconsin