Reduce Budget for Non-Productive Staff Time by Using Just-in-Time Training

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How much exactly does labor cost for nurses? Professional auditing company KPMG lists the usual items including payroll, insurance, recruitment related expenses, and non-productivity costs.

Nurse Labor Cost Components

Payroll includes base wages, differential pay, overtime, holiday pay, general paid time off, contributions for pension, potential additional bonuses, and more. Insurance not only includes health insurance but compensation, life and/or disability insurance, malpractice protection, and more. Recruitment expenditures involve the usual training and orientation but may also include advertising, transportation, medical tests, and turnover costs. Other possible costs include third party professional auditing or payroll services, further education and more.

Wages are naturally the greatest expense to hospitals,  but it’s quite a surprise to see that lack of productivity is part of hospital expenditures for nurses. In fact, it costs more than insurance and significantly constitutes about 13% of total labor costs.

“Non-productivity costs constitute about 13% of the total budget for nurses.”

Non-Productive Labor Cost

The usual non-productive costs include vacation and holiday pay, sick leave, staff development and meetings, orientation for new equipment, materials and hospital procedures, and more.

Non-productive hours include other items such as time used for training , further nursing education that’s financed by the hospital, and non-work related Internet usage. In facilities where traveling nurses form part of the staff, travel time is considered part of non-productivity costs.

Activities that do not add value to various processes are also considered part of non-productive time. These might include assisting with patient transport when a sufficient number of staff (or family) members are already present, or performing clerical roles. Value-added activities, on the other hand, include collaborating with team members, reviewing medical charts, preparing medication, administering care, and other activities performed by a patient’s bedside.

“Nurses directly affect operating costs due to equipment and medical supply usage.”

Operating, Capital and Human Resources Cost

Other than idle time, nurses also directly control operating costs, particularly when it comes to equipment and medical supply usage. Some of the usual materials used – including cotton balls, sterile dressings, IV tubing, tongue depressors, urinary catheter kits, and blood pressure cuffs – all contribute to operational costs, but how much they contribute is still dependent on how much a nurse uses them. While usage and disposal of these items are necessary for hygienic and medical purposes, additional costs are incurred when equipment or materials are utilized outside of intended usage and when applied for the wrong patient. A disorganized system may also directly affect incorrect items used for patients.   

How to Address Non-Productive Time and Cost

Addressing non-productivity will vary depending on the concern involved.

Management Responsibility

Management directly impacts personnel behavior related to productivity by implementing rules, monitoring, conducting regular performance reviews, and possibly even offering an incentive for exemplary staff members. These can reduce operating costs and minimize spending time with non-value-added activities.

Training-related non-productivity on the other hand is approached differently. Blocking time to assemble staff is no longer feasible when it comes to introducing new devices or processes. Apart from work hours wasted and electricity consumed, learning is not effective this way, as anyone’s attention may wander around during extended training sessions. This is where just-in-time training enters the picture.

Just-in-Time Training

In a previous post, we have discussed in detail how just-in-time training (JITT) benefits hospitals. JITT can replace traditional learning when introducing new processes and equipment so as not to block everyone’s schedules to accommodate training sessions.

“Just-in-time training is an effective alternative to traditional learning when implementing new processes or introducing new equipment. It also functions  as an efficient instructional guide when operating least-utilized devices.”


JITT videos are accessible exactly when needed so no time is consumed seeking another staff’s assistance, or cross-checking instructional materials as a refresher when using devices that are rarely needed. Anyone with a smartphone can simply scan a code in order to watch instructional videos. Learning while on the go is also more effective, as quick, concise education caters better to the average nurse’s attention span than long-winded training might. Lastly, JITT videos can be regularly updated for accuracy. Accurate information not only saves time, but also lives, as it prevents potentially fatal errors.

By implementing JITT, budget is reduced for non-productive staff time because every working hour is utilized only for productive activities at work.  

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