Importance of a Labor Budget

From day one we talk about budgets: everything has a time budget (feeding, medicating, cleaning, activities, etc). We know how much time it takes (or we think we do!) to complete every task and then we do the math (based on the occupancy) and figure out how many labor hours we need. We never think about it in terms of a “shift” or an individual; the labor scheduled is always based on the task budgets. Then we measure and see how they did and adjust as necessary.

We have found it helpful to involve staff in developing the time budgets. We actually had some contests to see how long it took to do certain things and then set our budgets based on that. We know at the staffing/scheduling level how much labor should be required to do the work based on the budgets. We do allow for some mild overscheduling around certain holidays to account for add-ons and “sick” staff.

When we schedule, we tell the team leaders that they are going to have to delegate to get all the tasks done. We want them doing more directing [staying within budgets] and less actual work. They don’t have to ask to send someone home but they do have to ask to add labor hour, and their request must be supported (i.e. we had 20 more personal plays).

They also know we are watching the all the ratios to monitor compliance. We share the ratio charts at the guest service supervisor level so they can see what we are seeing, which hopefully helps them think like we do and see how we arrive at our decisions.

What has been your experience in developing labor budgets for your facility? If you’ve done a labor budget, what surprises did you find?


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