In-House Payroll or Payroll Service?

This is a genuine dilemma with no straightforward obvious answer. Here are the main points that should be considered:

  1. Does a payroll service save time?
    • Employers still need to maintain employee records, PTO, accruals, and deductions on any system. This work does not go away with a payroll service.
    • Payroll services do not offer a payroll rules engine. If your organization has pay differentials, holiday pay, overtime, etc. these may not be automated and can be very time consuming to manage.
    • If processing payroll in-house, allow extra time for tax filings and payments.
  2. Is it cheaper to process payroll in-house?
    • Depends. The cost of running payroll in-house is much lower than using a payroll service, but if your organization needs to hire an extra person or pay overtime, then the savings may be minimal. If your existing staff can handle the extra work, mainly tax filing, then the savings can be significant.
    • Payroll services charge by employee or transaction. If your employees are paid minimum wage, are part time, or are paid sub-minimum wages under a Section 14(c) Subminimum Wage Certificate Program the proportion of the fees to payroll is relatively high.
  3. Cash flow
    • Payroll services require the money to be deposited early. With in-house payroll, the money does not leave your bank account until the direct deposit is released, or the employee cashes a paper check.
    • Payroll services take the taxes out each pay period including the employer taxes. With in-house payroll, the money does not leave your account until the taxes are paid.
  4. Direct Deposit
    • Direct deposit is supported by in-house payroll and payroll services.
    • With in-house payroll, the money can leave your bank account later.
  5. Tax Filings
    • Filing your own taxes takes time and has liability, as the filings must be done. However, many organizations do so.
    • If your organization only operates in one state, filing taxes is relatively straightforward. Filing in multiple states is more complex, even if there is only one employee in a state.
  6. Integration
    • MITC Payroll eliminates the need for Employee Imports and Timecard Exports. Payroll and Timecards are matched up, providing a tight audit trial. The employee check stub automatically displays in myMITC self service.
    • Payroll services often charge extra for General Ledger integration and do not always offer the flexibility in-house payroll does.
    • 401(k) and HSA filings are the same. Payroll services charge extra and may not do a very good job.
  7. Time and Attendance closings
    • Payroll services require the payroll to be processed earlier than with in-house payroll. This can have a knock-on effect on how much time managers and supervisors have to approve time and attendance, and payroll to audit time and attendance. The less time, the more likely the work will be rushed and not done in sufficient detail.
    • If a supervisor or manager needs to delay a time and attendance approval for part of any employee’s time and attendance, doing a “make up” payroll a few days later can be more complicated with a payroll service.

Fair Scheduling Trend Could Spell Trouble for Providers

Fair Scheduling Trend Could Spell Trouble for Providers

In recent months and years, retention and rising payroll costs have been a major concern for providers. However, fair scheduling legislation is gaining steam in cities and states across the country, and could soon be an equal issue — potentially making matters more complex.

Fair scheduling legislation varies across the country, but generally, the rules mandate employees must receive:

  • Set work schedules a certain number of days in advance
  • A certain number of rest hours in between shifts

If employers don’t meet requirements, they must pay workers a premium rate. This stipulation could be very difficult for providers to manage in HCBS programs where clients set their own schedule, or in group homes where staff call off at the last minute and a replacement has to provided

In California, workers who earn the minimum wage per hour are entitled to additional pay known as a “split shift premium” when their schedule includes a split shift. The premium is equal to one hour of pay at the rate of the minimum wage. An employee who is paid more than minimum wage may also be due a split shift premium, however, the greater the wage the lower the premium will be.

In some states and cities with fair scheduling laws, the rules only apply to certain industries, such as retail, hospitality, and food services. Some examples include the state of Oregon, along with the cities of San Francisco and Seattle. Vermont includes providers in fair scheduling laws.

In Chicago, a fair scheduling ordinance is being considered that casts a wide net. If passed, it would require employers to give their staff a written notice of their schedules two weeks in advance, and require workers at least 11 hours of time off between shifts. Schedule changes, or inability to meet these requirements, would require employers to pay workers premiums.

mySchedules includes software to comply with FAST (Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool) developed by the US Army and deployed by the federal government. To learn more about mySchedules, download the fact sheet

Solutions for Group Homes

Seven Ways to Drive Better Outcomes in Residential Group Home Settings

Residential services are broad, encompassing all aspects of life. Providers of residential services are expected to assist individuals with:

  • Activities of daily living
  • Positive interactions and relationships
  • Practices that promote health and wellness
  • Management of medical care
  • Mental health and emotional wellness
  • Direction of services and supports
  • Decision-making
  • Financial stability
  • Communication
  • Transportation options
  • Personal interests
  • Rights as a citizen
  • Activities of community life

Provider agencies find themselves competing for employees with an expanding human service industry, internet related companies, and others. With record low unemployment numbers and baby boomers retiring, agencies find themselves looking for new solutions for the workforce demands. National studies have shown upwards of 30% staff turnover for direct service professionals. Many agencies are looking to create innovative business models to meet these challenges including, incorporating technology, new human resource solutions, and incentives to stabilize and energize the work environment.

Agency Workforce Management has been deployed by many providers managing residential or group home programs. Here are seven ways Agency Workforce Management can help drive better outcomes in residential group home settings.

1. myApplicants

myApplicants: A Cost-Effective Applicant Tracking Solution for Human Service Agencies

Get hiring, onboarding, training, and licensing in one solution.

Let’s start at the beginning. National studies have shown upwards of 30% staff turnover for direct service professionals. This means more than ever, providers are going to need the most effective tools for managing high staff turnover.

Hit all these job boards with one click and streamline on-boarding

One click posts all your jobs on all these job boards, delivering more applicants, at lower cost than alternatives: Indeed, Glassdoor, Linkedin Organic, CareerCentric Organic, CareerJet, Job inventory, JobBoost, Jobbydoo, JobCase, JobisJob, Joobie,, LinkUp, Monster, My Job Helper, Neuvoo,,, SimplyHired, Trovit, US Jobs, ZipRecruiter Organic, and more.

myApplicants can help you win the hiring battle. Check out these results:

  • California: Generated 4,000 applicants of which 800 were good fits
  • Maryland: Switched from another system and doubled rate of new hires
  • West Virginia: Reduced Indeed costs by 75% and got more qualified applicants!

myApplicants also provides a fully featured onboarding system.

Download the Quick Tour for your own self-paced overview or email for pricing and information on the 30-day free trial. 

2. myTraining

myTraining for Agencies
MyTraining is designed to help your agency track and comply with training class requirements.

Track license and training certifications, renewals and more, manage training classes, and integrate with learning management systems.

  • Track training and license requirements by title and employee
  • Automatically alert employees, manager and HR if certifications are about to expire or have expired
  • Retain unlimited training history
  • Eliminate manual training class registration processes
  • Save time and expand employee self-service
  • Ensure compliance
  • Generate automatic confirmations and reminders
  • Automate publicizing training classes
  • Automatically notify employees if class is cancelled
  • Use with license and training expiration system to ensure compliance
  • Includes training class sign-in forms
  • Speed up set up and eliminate duplicate data entry with employee import from payroll or HR
  • Integrate with Relias and other online learning systems

3. myCommunications

Increase Communication Effectiveness Throughout Your Agency

With higher turnover, comes a greater need for more effective communication.

Designed to help providers dramatically increase communication effectiveness and productivity,

myCommunications delivers an easy, affordable, two-way messaging, HIPAA secure solution that is accessible from any web enabled device. With benefits like integrated audit reporting, file attachment capabilities, and color-coding, myCommunications includes every tool your agency needs to streamline incident reporting, group messaging, urgent communications and so much more!

Once your agency has the right people on board, they need to know where they are meant to be, when they are meant to be there and what to do when they get there! That’s where mySchedules helps.

4. mySchedules

Designed for providers managing residential and HCBS programs.

mySchedules provides agencies with a cost-effective, standalone scheduling solution for staff and clients in any program. mySchedules can be managed by full-time schedulers, run by managers, or a combination of both. With mySchedules, you get effective scheduling that helps contain payroll costs, maximize revenue, deploy your workforce effectively, increase retention, and improve morale. Effective in group home, HCBS, and day programs.

  • HIPAA compliant
  • Includes specialized procedures for group home and HCBS programs
  • Optimized for use on mobile phones, tablets, or workstations
  • Automatically text or remind employees about their next visits/shifts
  • Organize schedules by employee, client, location, and shift
  • Set up tasks for employees to complete during their shift
  • Publish schedules instantly for employees and managers
  • Track schedule vs. budget and authorization
  • Manage employee restrictions and preferences
  • Provide employees with ability to request extra hours for open positions
  • Automatically update schedule when employee approved for PTO
  • Integrate with other time and attendance systems to track absences, late arrivals, early departures, and overlapping attendance on shifts
  • Download employees from any payroll or HR

Now our staff know where they are meant to be, when they are meant to be there and what to do when they get there! But did they show up on time? How do they get paid? Did they leave early?

5. myAttendance

EVV-Compliant Time & Attendance Solutions

Medicaid EVV and HIPAA-compliant time and attendance.

  • Web Clock with GPS geo-fencing and out-of-area alerts for HCBS
  • Medicaid EVV-compliant Telephone Timekeeping with caller-ID and voice messaging
  • Service Documentation for Telephone Timekeeping or Web Clock
  • Biometric fingerprint reader for group home locations
  • No-show alerts
  • Employee Self-Service: Online timesheet, review and request changes to timesheet, view PTO
  • balances, request PTO
  • Approve change requests, PTO requests and timecards prior to payroll and/or billing
  • Employee import from Payroll or HR to speed set up and implementation
  • Time and Attendance reports
  • Payroll Preparation reports
  • Payroll Rules & Reporting Engine: Automate rounding, job, shift and service pay differentials,
  • holiday pay uplifts, break times, travel time, reallocations, and more
  • Payroll Integration: Customized timecard export to payroll of your choice, customized employee
  • import from payroll or HR of your choice, customized payroll check stub and W-2 import
  • Billing and Billing Integration with state or MCO system

But did your staff stay awake and remain onsite for all of their shift?

6. myCheckIn

myCheckIn for Agencies with Group Homes or HCBS Programs
myCheckIn for Agencies with Group Homes or HCBS Programs

Ensure that employees are awake and present at overnight locations.

Agency staff working overnight awake shifts are often required to check in every hour or two to ensure they are awake and have not left the client. Agency Workforce Management’s myCheckIn system aids with compliance, helps promote safety and accountability, and fits into best practice models.

Used primarily by providers managing group homes and HCBS programs, Agency Workforce Management’s myCheckIn helps ensure employees are awake or have not left the location during an overnight shift.

  • Verify check-in using telephone, web clock, or biometric fingerprint reader
  • Ensure staff are onsite with caller-ID, GPS geo-fencing, or IP address
  • Ensure staff are awake and still onsite
  • Receive alerts if staff miss a check-in
  • Comprehensive reporting system with unlimited history
  • Ensure compliance and ratios
  • Provide independent third-party verification

Lastly but not least staff and clients need a safe and secure setting in which to work and live. myMaintenance provides managers and maintenance staff with the tools they need to maintain group homes and vehicles.

7. myMaintenance

Track Inspections, Service Requests, Repairs, and More

Designed for providers looking for an affordable and easy way to track inspections, service requests, equipment scheduled maintenance, repairs, and more.

  • Set up recurring work orders for health & safety inspections, vehicle and equipment maintenance and more
  • Allow managers to enter special service requests
  • Attach pictures to work orders
  • Track open and completion status
  • Generate auto-reminders if service requests stays open
  • Use calendars and employee availability to make it even easier to dispatch repair person
  • Maintain and update inventory of appliances and equipment by location
  • Track repair costs and equipment moved between locations
U.S. Department of Labor - Managing FMLA

New DOL Guidelines for Vocational Programs

Wage and Hour Updated Guidance for 14(c) Certificate Holders

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has published three documents providing guidance on the payment of subminimum wages under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The first two are related to the impact of Rehabilitation Act section 511 and the third provides general guidance on the administration of section 14(c).

Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2019-1 concerns the definition of subminimum wages under section 511 and WHD’s enforcement of the limitations on the payment of those wages under section 14(c).  Fact Sheet #39H: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Limitations on Payment of Subminimum Wages under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The revisions include information on the definition of subminimum wages and timing requirements under section 511, as well as two charts to provide visual summaries for determining when and to whom the specific section 511 requirements apply. 

The fact sheet also cross-references readers to the related regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Fact Sheet #39I:  Adjusting Commensurate Wage Rates under a Section 14(c) Certificate After a Change in the Minimum Wage, provides guidance on taking appropriate action to ensure prevailing wage rates are timely examined and adjusted, and the workers’ commensurate wage rates correspondingly adjusted, as needed, when there is an increase in the federal, state, or a locality’s minimum wage requirements.

Download the fact sheet for more information on how myClients can help providers managing day and vocational programs.

Provider Loses $920,004 in Timesheet Fraud, 41 Employees Arrested

Provider Loses $920,004 in Timesheet Fraud, 41 Employees Arrested

In January 2019, 41 individuals were charged in a nearly $1 million overtime kickback scheme that carried on for 21 months before external accountants spotted a potential massive payroll leak. Four supervisors were detained in prison on bail. 

The supervisors manually altered timesheets to inflate hours at group homes that were not worked, resulting in overtime payments to employees, who in return, provided kickbacks to the supervisors (including a used BMW). Individual employees received overpayments up to $22,117 during the period of the scam. 

The problems appear to result from lack of attention or ability to track hours worked vs. budget on a pay-period-to-pay-period basis by group home or other cost center and the percentage of edits.

The provider was using a general purpose time and attendance system from its payroll provider. Typically these systems do not provide the controls and ease of auditing features Agency Workforce Management provides to agencies. 

For more information on key metrics providers should check download this eBook, 9 Operational Metrics Agencies Should Monitor.

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.


8 Standalone Solutions for Your Agency

Every provider faces a unique set of workforce challenges; some suffer from high turnover, while others struggle to communicate with their employees, and still others can’t be sure their overnight workers are staying awake. Because providers have such a variety of needs, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is why Agency Workforce Management includes a set of standalone solutions called the mySeries.

mySeries solutions are all standalone systems, but they also integrate with each other. This allows providers to choose as many or as few solutions as they need. Just need a quick fix to a single problem? Great! Maybe you want two? No problem. Each solution in the mySeries targets a different area of workforce management.

myApplicants – Applicant Tracking System

Amidst this labor shortage, many providers are short-staffed. They are also facing tough competition for employees, resulting in high turnover rates, especially for direct service professionals. Turnover also leads to more overtime, as employees work long hours to cover shifts for those who quit.

myApplicants is a powerful applicant tracking system designed to raise staffing levels, reduce turnover, and slash overtime. It does this by expediting the recruiting process, expanding job description viewership, and helping agencies choose the best fit for each position.


myAttendance – Time & Attendance for EVV Compliance

By the end of the year, every provider of personal care services will be subject to an EVV mandate. The details vary by state, but some providers will have the freedom to use an EVV vendor of their choice. Many of those providers just want to become EVV-compliant without revamping everything; myAttendance is the simple solution for these providers.

myAttendance is an EVV-compliant timekeeping solution that supports telephone timekeeping with caller-ID and web clock with GPS geo-fencing and out of area alerts. It can also produce in-depth reports and integrate with billing and payroll. Providers in states that already have active EVV mandates, such as Louisiana and Missouri, have successfully adopted myAttendance for timekeeping and visit verification.


myCheckIn – Overnight Awake Safety

Staying awake during an overnight shift – especially if all the clients are asleep – is difficult. Almost as difficult, as a manager, is ensuring your employees are awake and onsite even when you are asleep at home. Providers may take precautions to keep overtired employees off the night shift, but they rarely have concrete assurance that this is enough. That is, unless they have myCheckIn.

myCheckIn requires overnight workers to, well, check in at regular intervals, such as every 30 minutes. This proves they are awake and in the right location throughout the night. Not only does myCheckIn give managers peace of mind about the clients’ safety, it also provides third-party verification that the provider meets staff-to-client ratios at night.


myClients – Client Attendance and Billing

Medicaid providers manage a lot of client activities and requirements. Rather than tracking everything in disparate systems, providers can keep all their client information in one place with myClients. This is convenient and it reduces the probability of mistakes.

myClients is a provider’s hub for its clients’ activities, billing, and payroll. On top of client attendance in day programs, myClients can capture documentation, generate billing reports, integrate with a third-party billing system, and track client work activity in vocational programs. It is available in four tiers of functionality, so providers never have to buy more than they need.


myCommunications – Employee Communication Portal

One of the top reasons employees leave their jobs is lack of communication. When agencies do not open a clear path of communication between employees and managers, workers start to lose focus. They may eventually disengage from their jobs if they lack consistent direction and insight.

myCommunications is a two-way messaging system designed for providers to replace email. Providers can use it to order supplies, report problems, report incidents, or send general notifications. Also, since email lists are difficult to maintain, especially in a high-turnover industry, myCommunications automatically adds employees upon hire and blocks them upon termination.


myMaintenance – Safety and Inspection Tracking

Client safety is paramount in group homes, day programs, and service vehicles. But the most important factors of a safe environment – inspections and maintenance – are easily rushed or overlooked. Or, when providers capture inspections on paper, they are easily lost. Providers with poor or missing inspection records can inadvertently allow maintenance deadlines to lapse, thereby endangering their clients.

myMaintenance helps providers easily track inspections, service requests, scheduled maintenance, repairs, and more. It generates reminders if a service request is open for too long, automatically schedules recurring work orders, and ensures inspections are thoroughly tracked. Providers can easily access all these records in an online portal without fear of losing them.


mySchedules – Staff and Client Scheduling

Is overtime a constant problem for your agency? You are not alone. Many providers are struggling to fill all their positions due to the labor shortage, resulting in overtime for current employees. To make things worse, some still create employee schedules in Excel or even on paper; these providers have no visibility into overtime rates, schedule/timesheet variances, or employee availability without analyzing all their records manually.

mySchedules is an automated scheduling solution that gives managers the insight necessary to reduce overtime. With mySchedules, providers can post staff and client schedules immediately, update them from any web-enabled device, set reminders, and run powerful reports. The solution can also filter employees by hours, location, training status, schedule preference, and more; this allows managers to quickly choose the best employees for each shift without overloading anyone.


myTraining – Training and Certification Tracking

An agency is not audit-ready unless all its employees are up-to-date on required licenses and certifications. However, tracking this information is often time-consuming. And making sure employees complete their re-certs before the deadline is even more difficult.

myTraining is a solution that tracks training requirements and employees’ certification status. It sends reminders, automates training class enrollment, and provides a central web location to advertise classes and tests. With myTraining, managers can view the status of their employees in just a glance.

Retain employees during the labor shortage

How Agencies Can Reduce the Effects of the Labor Shortage

The United States labor shortage is creating stress for employers across the country, but especially for providers serving the I/DD and behavioral health communities. Their work is crucial to the communities they care for, but they are struggling to fill positions. The situation appears more critical by the day. Fortunately, it is possible for an agency to hire and retain employees, even if it cannot raise wages.

What is Causing the Labor Shortage?

The labor shortage does not have one simple cause. The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) released a report in 2017 to address some of the reasons for the shortage, and some of them are surprising.

For example, take a look at a United States Supreme Court case called Olmstead v. L.C. In this case, two women with mental illnesses received treatment at state-run institutions. Eventually, mental health professionals said the women were ready for community-based programs, where they could lead more “normal” lives. However, the women were kept institutionalized for years afterward. They sued, and in 1999, the Supreme Court decided that separating disabled persons from society longer than necessary violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since that decision, the federal government has made policies that encourage more home and community-based care for people in the I/DD and behavioral health communities. The problem, however, is that these policies are not backed with an appropriate increase in funds. If more people want home-based care, more workers need to take jobs as care providers. But if the states are unable to expand their budgets proportionally, wages are stretched thin.

Another reason for the labor shortage is that the working population is shrinking. Too few people are entering the workforce to replace retiring baby boomers. Even worse, the primary direct support professional (DSP) demographic (working-age women) is getting smaller. This means that even if DSP wages increase, there will still be a shortage of workers from the typical DSP demographic.

At the same time, the need for DSPs is rising fast.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job outlook for home health aides and personal care aides will grow 40% between 2016 and 2026 – that is much faster than the 7% average growth rate for all jobs.

How is the labor shortage affecting human service agencies?

Providers are feeling the sting of the labor shortage most of all in their turnover rates. The DSP turnover rate is at 45%, according to the ANCOR report. A 2015 survey by National Core Indicators found that more than half of DSPs leave their jobs within a year, and about a third leave within six months. A rate this high means that clients don’t have time to get to know and trust their caregivers before they leave.

Turnover isn’t the only adverse effect. As noted earlier, job vacancies will rise in the coming years, causing extra agency expenses. The ANCOR report says that every unfilled position costs an agency between $4,200 and $5,200 in direct and indirect costs. Even worse, job vacancies could affect your agency’s DSP-to-client ratios and incite hefty fines.

As positions remain unfilled, employees need to work extra hours to fill shifts. This often leads to overtime. USA Today reported that worker shortages across the country have “quietly provided a financial boon to many full-time employees, who are notching lots of overtime, and part-timers, who are toiling more hours or shifting to full time.” This is nice for people eager to work more hours, but it is costly to their employers.

Most importantly, the labor shortage hurts the people within the I/DD and behavioral health communities. Many clients rely on provider services to live healthy lives. Without enough employees, agencies can’t take care of their clients properly. This is obviously disastrous for clients as well as providers.

How Can Human Service Agencies Cope With These Effects?

These stats are sobering for any business, but particularly for agencies that rely on state and federal funding. Even though most providers are at another’s mercy for funding issues, there are still ways for them to boost retention and cut costs.

Promote a work-life balance for employees

“Work-life balance” is a buzzword in most workplaces today, especially among younger generations. According to the 2017 State of the American Workforce report by Gallup, 53% of employees say that greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” when  considering a new job. This attribute ranks higher than job security, significant pay increase, and company reputation. The percentage may also increase in the coming decade, since millennials and Gen Xers assign more importance to this than baby boomers.

An excellent way to ensure your employees have a good work-life balance is to manage their schedules well. One of the biggest complaints employees have is lack of advance notice for their schedules. Poor scheduling or last-minute schedule changes can cause conflicts with employee’s home lives and cause them to seek alternative employment, even at a lower pay rate. It is important to track employee preferences and restrictions when creating the schedule. Doing so will maximize employee satisfaction and help you avoid a hassle. Allow enough time between shifts for employees to go home and rest, and avoid calling employees back in when they have just finished a shift.

Also, take advantage of the internet to simplify scheduling. Publish schedules online so employees can access them anytime, anywhere. Save time for everybody by letting employees see not just their own schedules, but also who they are working with, open shifts, their PTO balances, etc. Allow employees to request PTO online, avoiding telephone/email tag.

Empower employees

All employees need to feel respected in the workplace. One way managers can respect their employees is by giving them a certain amount of autonomy. Researchers from the University of Birmingham recently found that employee autonomy directly correlates to job satisfaction. For women, in particular, autonomy translates to scheduling and location flexibility.

One way to give employees a sense of autonomy is to allow self-service. Self-service means employees have some control over their schedules, PTO requests, training requirements, and benefits information. This can mean allowing them to change their schedule preferences online, giving them full-time access to their PTO balances, letting them receive notifications whenever extra shifts are available, and setting up automated alerts so they are always aware of their training deadlines. Self-service can also mean enabling employees to request corrections to their attendance records (like forgetting to clock out). When employees have some autonomy, they are more likely to feel respected—and it reduces the administrative burden on managers!

Improve time and attendance

A high turnover rate causes payroll costs from overtime and position vacancies. While overtime can never be eliminated, using an insecure time and

attendance system encourages poor attendance and low-level payroll fraud. Save your agency from additional costs by using a secure time and attendance system.

Biometric fingerprint readers, for example, eliminate the risks of buddy punching and fraud. These errors can add up to 1-3% of an agency’s payroll-related costs. That does not even take into account the lost productivity from payroll calculations and data entry. Since the cost of biometric fingerprint readers has dropped in recent years, they can give agencies a great return on investment.

For in-home programs, where fingerprint scanners are not feasible, telephone timekeeping is effective. Use voice authentication to inhibit buddy punching, and use location-based caller-ID to prevent fraud. Telephone timekeeping also allows for more advanced features, such as no-show alerts and employee HR alerts at clock-in.

Recruit creatively

Another way to cope with the labor shortage is to get creative with recruiting. Since the number of women in the workforce is shrinking, agencies need to expand their horizons when looking for employees.

Millennials are the up-and-coming group to dominate the workforce. According to LinkedIn’s 2015 Talent Trends Report, they will comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020, and 75% within a decade. Millennials like social media, so link to your job applications on Facebook and Twitter. Offer paid or unpaid internships, open houses, and career days to attract job seekers. Also, emphasize your mission – millennials, in particular, want to feel like they are contributing to the greater good at work.

Additionally, find ways to speed up your recruiting process. For example, try using a web-based system to track the entire applicant process. An online system can save you time by automatically notifying passive job seekers of new positions, parsing resumes, and tracking every step of the way, among other things. It can also make the process more intuitive for applicants, which makes a good first impression (millennials, especially, expect clean and user-friendly websites).

While the labor shortage continues, the employment outlook for your agency may appear grim. But even if your agency’s budget isn’t as flexible as you’d like it to be, you can take steps to rise above the competition by attracting and retaining valuable workers.

Contact for more information on VoIP Telephone Timekeeping.

MITC Now Includes VoIP Telephone Timekeeping

Agency Workforce Management is pleased to announce we now offer VoIP telephone timekeeping as well as analog telephone timekeeping and Web Clock! VoIP (Voice over IP) enables you to use a less expensive broadband Internet connection instead of using analog telephone lines. VoIP is available with MITC Cloud or customer-hosted solutions.

Benefits of Using VoIP for Telephone Timekeeping

  • Eliminate costs of multiple analog phone lines
  • No need to use digital to analog converters
  • Automatically restarts in the event of power outage
  • No busy signals
  • No need to buy lines for “busy” periods
  • Greater stability
  • No lines down/bringing lines up
  • No need for dedicated server
  • Dialogic Voice Processor
  • Reduced costs if using MITC Cloud
  • Per employee pricing: only pay for what you use

Agency Workforce Management will continue to support analog/dialogic telephone timekeeping, but you’ll always have the choice to switch to VoIP in the future.

Contact for more information on VoIP Telephone Timekeeping.