So far 2021 has been the year of the COVID vaccine as more and more people have become eligible to receive it. As of mid-May 2021, everyone age 12 and over in the United States is able to get a vaccine and about 37.5% of the country’s total population is fully vaccinated.
It’s a great start, but as eligibility has increased, we’ve also seen certain areas struggle to set up and staff new vaccine locations. Here are three tips on how to make the staffing side of your COVID-19 vaccine site run smoothly and efficiently.
1. Invest in Training
COVID-19 vaccine sites and their workers are meant to be temporary, but that doesn’t mean training should be skimped on. If you have a backlog of patients waiting to receive a shot, it might be tempting to open the doors immediately. But in order to make the site safe and efficient for the general public, health care providers need to have the right training and knowledge, whether it’s on proper vaccine delivery or how to manage a possible emergency situation.
Even for those not administering vaccines, it’s important to ensure employees handling, storing and delivering vaccines goes smoothly. Similarly, volunteers greeting or checking people in should have the latest information to be able to effectively answer questions and dispel misinformation that patients might have when they arrive.
A well-prepared vaccine site team is an efficient one, and administrators who take the time to invest in thorough training will see the payoff.
2. Use Technology to Manage Credentials
In order to function smoothly, a vaccine site needs a wide variety of people with different skill sets to ensure adequate staffing. In addition to providers licensed to administer vaccines, consider what other credentials you might need. Will you need staff who can communicate with non-English-speaking patients? Does the site require security or traffic monitoring for a drive-through or curbside clinic?
Not every employee will be qualified for every role at a vaccine clinic, but it can be incredibly time-consuming for managers to manually create schedules when they have to assign specific roles to specific credentials. A great time-saver can be a digital workforce management system that includes credential verification.
Rather than digging through a pool of employees to find the people with the right qualifications for a role, the system allows you to tag employees with their credentials and easily have that information right at your fingertips. When managers create a schedule, they can note specific roles that have special requirements. Then when they go to find someone to fill a specific role with certain requirements like vaccine training or fluency in a certain language, only people with the right qualifications will show up as options.
3. Try Flexible Self-Scheduling
A flexible self-scheduling model allows team members to choose what shifts they want versus a manager assigning shifts. Not only does this save a manager time mapping out a schedule, but employees also often actually prefer it.
Flexible self-scheduling gives employees more control of their lives, offers them a more predictable schedule, and allows them to schedule work around other life demands, like children or family responsibilities. Many vaccine sites are using at-will employees who are volunteers, so using a flexible schedule makes it very easy for them to work exactly as much time as they’d like and not feel overburdened.
This model also makes it easy to increase or decrease staffing to meet anticipated demand at the vaccine site. Are weekends or certain times of the day busier than others? Managers can map out a schedule that accommodates these fluctuations but can also easily staff up if demand unexpectedly jumps.
The easiest and quickest way to incorporate a flexible schedule is to use a workforce management software with a cloud or mobile-based app. A manager can create a schedule based on anticipated demand in the coming weeks and then send the schedule to their employee pool. Workers will get an alert on their phone that new shifts are available, and they can go in, pick the shifts they’d like to work, and only see the roles they have the right credentials for.
The app makes it easy for everyone to reference the schedule as needed, and workers also have the ability to trade shifts or message managers or coworkers all within one easy platform.
Whether you’re setting up a new vaccine site or managing an existing one, scheduling can be a daunting task to deal with every few weeks. Technology can be an incredible tool to save time and headaches in the long run and give employees more time to devote to patients.
Martin Hartshorne is CEO of When I Work, a market leader in hourly workforce management that provides a fully integrated scheduling, time tracking, and team messaging solution to nearly 200,000 workplaces.