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Integrating a part-time associate with efficiency (Proceedings)

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Oct 01, 2008

People don't work just for pay—they perform a certain amount of work in a certain environment with certain restrictions and benefits, in exchange for a paycheck. Every person has a life outside of work, each with different priorities. When possible, and if it is desired, allow for flexible scheduling. Ask your associates what they need, and involve them in creating solutions that meet the hospital's needs as well as their own needs.

What is "flexible work?"

Flexible work includes items such as participation in creating scheduling, working hours, and breaks; allowing for a gradual return to work after maternity leave; sharing a job; working a compressed work week; taking extended breaks for educational opportunities or sabbaticals; working part-year on an annual basis (combine with job-sharing); and breaks for care-giving of elderly family members. Work schedules for part-time team members can be set up in a wide variety of ways.

Flex-time includes anything outside of the typical professional's 8 to 5 workday, 5 to 6 days per week. For example, some doctors may work from 7 am to 3 pm, and others from 10 am to 8 pm. These can be permanently staggered shifts, or optional and changing as the needs of the business and its employees change. Another version varies by the week or month. For example, two doctors may alternate who works Saturdays, or weekends, or some other day or time. Such schedules are arranged well ahead of time—often by the year. Yet another version of flexible scheduling is flexing by season. Summer is a particularly busy time, yet many people want fewer working hours or vacation breaks. Your part-timers may choose to alternate working more hours per week for a time, with others working less, alternating over the summer.

A compressed work week is a work arrangement where someone may work "full time," but those hours are fitted into fewer days.

Pure-part-time refers to a job that ranges from 15 to 30 hours per week, as a long term commitment. The number of hours per week is usually fixed for each part-time employee.

Job sharing includes different responsibilities for employees than if they were each simply hired for a part-time position. Job-sharers are together responsible for ensuring that certain hours and duties are filled—together, they act as one. Their job description should include ensuring the hours are covered, and they must work together to make that happen.

Part-time as full-time (working at more than one hospital), is great for people who want to work full-time, but who can only find a part-time position. This arrangement works best if doctors work in two clinics whose client-geographical areas do not overlap.

Use group communication tools

Clear communication across shifts is essential with any practice, but particularly when part-timers are utilized. Consider these group communication tools:

Provide a hospital manual (employee handbook) with procedures and policies.

Keep job descriptions as current, action documents

Hold rounds at each shift change.

Provide a bulletin board and individual mailboxes.

Assign work partners (tech/doctor).

Cross-train employees.

Hold regular meetings, but also talk to each other, every day.