How to Get More Out of Your Relationship with a Staffing Agency

Given the staffing challenges that the senior care industry faces, staffing agencies have become key partners. By carefully building and maintaining the relationships that they have with staffing agencies, senior care organizations stand to benefit in multiple ways.

Why Relationships With Staffing Agencies Matter

Steve Belcher

Steve Belcher, co-founder and president of Advantis Medical Staffing

The importance of developing a relationship with a staffing agency is based in the evolution of employment over the last three to five years. Steve Belcher, co-founder and president of travel nursing company Advantis Medical Staffing, explains that as employment has evolved, it has led to employees wanting more flexibility and more choices about when and where they work. The gig economy has contributed to a labor market of short-term contracts and freelance work.

“A relationship with a staffing agency gives you access to that talent that is looking for some of those short-term contracts or a flexible position,” says Belcher. “I also look at staffing agencies as a strategic partner that supplements staffing burnout, turnover, and spikes in census.”

Marina Aslanyan, CEO of SmartLinx, notes that when a senior care organization develops a relationship with a staffing agency, the organization is better able to provide continuity of care to its residents. “With a longstanding relationship, you’re more likely to get that same staff again and again,” she explains. “They almost become a permanent fixture in your facility, even though they’re flex staff.” That continuity of care has significant implications when it comes to developing relationships with residents, understanding their likes and dislikes, and even noticing small behavior changes that could indicate potential health issues.

Being able to repeatedly bring in the same staff from these agencies also means that the staff are better able to step in and quickly get to work. Aslanyan notes that new staff have to be trained, need to learn how to use the technology that’s present in a facility, need badge IDs, and more. “There’s a process of acclimating those third-party resources to the facility,” she says. “A longer-term relationship with a staffing agency makes that process easier.”

Building the Right Relationship with a Staffing Agency

Marina Aslanyan

Marina Aslanyan, CEO, SmartLinx

Aslanyan notes that it’s important for senior care facilities to consider their staffing needs and the type of relationship that they want to build. Facilities need to consider whether they’re looking for ad hoc or full-time staffing. The amount of advance notice that they are able to give to an agency is also important; Aslanyan encourages facilities to give as much notice as possible.

“It’s important to establish that model of what the facility needs and wants, and to share that with the agency,” she says. “The facility also needs to understand the agency model.” For example, a facility might want to make a shift in its own policies if it will need to pay an agency premium for four or 10 hours of staffing. “You might want to do more advance planning or shift to less full-time and more agency employees for consistency,” she says. As senior care facilities start to build this relationship, they will face many questions that they have to answer for themselves.

Belcher notes that the way that a senior care facility views a staffing agency can affect that relationship, too. “Look at the really big picture,” he says. “A staffing agency can help to reduce burnout and maintain core staff.” He notes that Advantis Medical Staffing will be “as involved with our facilities’ businesses as they’ll let us be.” That might consist of site visits to the facilities, scheduled calls to ask about what’s most important to the business, gathering information about the patient population, and learning about issues that the business has experienced with previous employees.

By allowing an agency to get involved with the business, a senior care facility can start to build that important relationship. Aslanyan notes that technology can speed that relationship up. “Six or seven years ago, you needed to pick up the phone, call, or fax a request for staff when working with many organizations. By the time they had read that information, you might be outside of that staffing window,” she says. “Now, the five top providers across the United States all have pretty advanced technology.” That technology allows senior care facilities to request staffing for shifts, to see nurse profiles and ratings, and it supports reconciliation with automatic invoicing. That technology leads to increased streamlining and speed. “The more you automate, the faster the process goes,” she explains.

Belcher encourages senior care facilities to ask staffing agencies about their clinical team. “That’s important because that clinical group can play an instrumental role in staffing,” he says. Clinical teams can help with talent screening, but they can also coach and support staff while they’re on assignment, contributing to a better experience for both the staff and the organization.

While building a quality relationship with a staffing agency can contribute to the overall success of the experience, Belcher notes that the facility’s approach toward the agency and its staff plays a key role, too. “Approach a staffing agency as a strategic business partner,” he says. “Get administrators together and say, “Let’s welcome these clinicians and treat them like they’re staff.” Find a way to unite the staff nurses and contractors.” By creating a welcoming environment for contractors, a facility can set them up for success and make the most of their presence.

Topics: Clinical , Facility management , Featured Articles , General Technology , Staffing , Technology & IT