Improve Quality of Service and Meet Regulatory and Policy Obligations
Tracking credentials to avoid non-compliance penalties can bog down an organization. Most companies still use separate processes to manage credentials and schedule employees. This necessitates going back and forth between two systems, a task that becomes more and more complicated with every additional staff member. Combining the two functions makes it easier to stay within necessary compliance standards, will save money and offer competitive advantages.
Credentials fall into two categories:
Hard credentials are certifications or licenses required by law or company policy. Typically, they require training followed by the successful completion of testing or examination. Many, if not most, hard credentials are good for a limited time and will expire without renewal or recertification. Examples include:
- Medical/Nursing license
- Commercial driver’s license
- Food worker license
Soft credentials demonstrate knowledge and experience that adds to a staff member’s skillset or proficiency. While they can influence hiring, salary level and promotions, soft credentials are not required by law or company policy. Examples include:
- Bachelor’s or master’s degree
- Professional certifications
- Fluency in multiple languages
Organizations may also use seniority and individual performance ratings as soft credentials that affect scheduling.
Credential Tracking Methods
There are numerous methods to track credentials. Organizations run the spectrum from relying on employees to police themselves to using complicated tools focused just on credentials. Common ways people manage credentials include:
- Verbal — Company asks, “Hey, do you have your license?” Employee answers, “Yes!”
- Email — Company emails, “Please reply to this email to confirm that you have your license and it is up to date.” The company may go the extra mile and request a picture of the license.
- Excel — Some organizations keep a spreadsheet detailing name, license name, number, expiration date, and even hyperlinks to an image of the license.
- Software — There are talent management systems, acquisition systems, scheduling systems (like Shiftboard), and human resource management systems that can all be used to track credentials.
Why are Credentials Important?
It’s important to have a clear understanding of which hard credentials are required, as well as what soft credentials might be desirable in order to meet a number of legal, contractual, and customer requirements. More on this later, but first, a few words about scheduling…
At the most fundamental level you have employees, you have shifts to fill, and a schedule that brings those two things together. Scheduling is at the core of day-to-day operations. It affects productivity, operational efficiency, and costs. Scheduling methods range from pencil and paper to whiteboards to spreadsheets to scheduling software.
But proper, strategic scheduling is more than an Excel sheet with names matched to roles and shifts. Scheduling has its own lifecycle that begins with onboarding, then moves to creating the schedule, followed by managing the change that’s inherent with scheduling, and finally using analytics to improve your process. Handled properly, scheduling can be a strategic tool that integrates with other business systems and requirements to propel your organization forward.
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5 Reasons to Integrate Credential Management with Staff Scheduling
Integrating credential management into your staff scheduling will ensure you only schedule people with correct and current credentials. It also gives insight into your talent pool, allowing you to base schedules on a long or complex list of preferences or requirements. Integration provides five significant benefits:
1 Stay in Contractual Compliance
When working with unions and labor organizations, collective bargaining agreements often include terms that require specific credentials. In other cases, customers may stipulate they need workers with multiple skills. For example, a restaurant may want a worker who is capable of doing bartending and waiting tables, while another customer may need someone who can operate both a forklift and backhoe. In order to avoid fines and lawsuits, put tools and processes in place that track both hard and soft credentials, and that can match those credentials against contractual requirements.
2 Meet Legal Requirements
The healthcare and finance industries provide good examples of legally required credentials. For example, you need a nursing license to work as a nurse, or a Series 7 license to work in investment planning. Expired licenses can lead to severe penalties or fines, both for employees and organizations. By integrating credential management and staff scheduling, you can set up your system to automatically suspend a person when a hard credential expires. Take prevent this from occurring, your software app should notify, ahead of time, employees whose credentials are about to expire, and their managers.
3 Ensure Quality of Service
This is where hard and soft credentials come together. Let’s take nursing as an example: A nursing license is a hard credential and minimum bar that all applicants must meet. But a critical soft credential is performance and rating, which you can layer on top of the hard credential to help determine which nurse will deliver the highest quality of service to patients. Ratings and grades can apply to both hard and soft credentials, and can be used to greatly increase your organization’s overall quality of service. Also, pay attention to how the person’s actual experience aligns with the hard credential and the tenure of that credential. For example, take a person with a hard credential from the mid-90s (indicating long work experience), but the person only started working in the field 6 months ago (soft credential). This kind of qualitative information helps paint a clearer picture and better match workers to positions.
4 Improve Operational Efficiency
When choosing between two people with seemingly similar credentials, in-depth credential tracking and analysis can help identify one who may be faster, more effective, a higher performer, or a better match in any number of areas. For example, nursing credentials include RN (registered nurse) and BSN (bachelor of science, nursing). Both are nurses, but since the two credentials represent different financial and performance expectations, one organization may specifically want RNs while another may want only BSNs. As you layer on other soft credentials like performance ratings, language skills, and years in service, you deepen your operational efficiency.
5 Create a Competitive Advantage
As part of monitoring the competitive landscape, you want to look at what credentials your competitors are advertising for and how that differs from what you are seeking. It’s important to understanding the market wages and values for a particular credential to ensure that you’re meeting that bar. For example, if you are under-paying for a credential, it’s more likely that individual will move on when they find a better opportunity. However, when you pay the appropriate market wage and add some additional benefits (perhaps non-financial perks), you gain a strategic competitive advantage by keeping those credentialed employees for a longer time. By layering hard and soft credentials, you begin to target the very best talent, giving you a much deeper bench with overall better capabilities, performance, and success than your competitors.
Credential management is all about having the right information at hand to match the right person to the right job, meet legal and contractual obligations, provide the highest quality of service, and optimize your operations. By integrating credential management with scheduling, using software to automate the process, you can turn credentials from a check box into a competitive advantage.
This article is offered as general information only. It is not legal advice. When making decisions about compliance, seek counsel from a qualified attorney.