Ask for Help During Staff Shortages

Ask for Help During Staff Shortages

The success of one hospital’s volunteer staffing program shows help may be a question away.

To address staff shortages across multiple departments during the pandemic, Akron Children's Hospital launched Helping Hands—an opt-in, flexible staffing program where any staff member could work additional hours in different roles to support patient care. What happened next provided Christine Young with a valuable lesson.

"What Helping Hands taught me is that if you don't ask, people don't know what you need," says Young, M.S.N., MBA, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio. "If you ask, you will be surprised and inspired by the number of people who want to help."

For Young and her team, that number was over 900 employees who volunteered—more than Akron Children's was even able to deploy. But it wasn't just the magnitude of the response that was enlightening. Young says the optional aspect of the program created a more effective volunteer workforce. "A voluntary program really helped engage everyone."

Young says the experience proves a glass-half-full approach can yield amazing results.

"It's easy to make assumptions about people's behavior, but I would rather assume people will do things if you ask them," Young says. "If we wouldn't have asked for help, we never would've gotten this kind of response."

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