Re: [Histonet] Work load

From:Paul Howard Lockwood

Dear Eileen,
      The problem of work load versus staffing comes from the inappropriate application of of a branch of business math called Operations Research. Bean counters 
have this awful tendancy to work up a model based upon what they consider important functions. This leaves out "unimportant" functions that lab techs must 
perfrom, including paperwork, washing labware, taking finished work to the pathologists, storing specimens, and so forth. All of these functions do take up time, but 
somehow the time taken is left out of the model the accountants and business managers and adminstrators come up with. They seem to believe that a lab tech can 
somehow move themselves into a dimension where time does not occur. Obviously, those of us who actually perform know different, but can;t get this across to the 
ones who have come up the model.
      This adherence to the model comes from a belief that the model is the same as real life. None of the people who use Operations Research have ever bothered to 
read Rutherford Aris's work "Mathematical Models and Modeling Techniques." In this volume, Dr. Aris spends the entire first chapter pointing out that models are not 
real life, but only models. After the model is devised, it has to be tested. After the test, the data from the test will usually be at variance with the predictions given from 
the model. Based on those variances, the model has to be reworked to fit the test data, not the other way around. Business people are not scientists, even if they use 
something that seems scientific. This is what makes them frustrating, and occassionally dangerous in the work place. (The danger being not just loss of jobs of the lab 
techs, in your case, but turn around time for diagnosis, and hence treatment of patients.) 
     My advice is to do a study of what the lab techs do, and how long it takes them to do each task, and leave nothing out. Present this information to the 
accountants and administrators, and let them know, firmly but gently, that to reduce your staff would cause severe problems in getting the work done. An example you 
might use is one from the post office. Postal route carriers had their staffs reduced to the point where one carrier was doing what had been formerly two routes. It was 
deemed possible to get all this work done in an eight hour day. What was left out was the amount of sorting, and paperwork route carriers have to do. This increased 
their hours per day from eight to ten, eleven, even twelve hours a day. Where the post office saved money by reducing it's route carrier staff, it lost more money by 
paying out time and half for the remaining postal carriers. Another example is from where I work, where they have used "lean manufacturing" principles to reduced the 
staff to the point where there isn't enough people to do the work. And if one person is sick, or takes a vacation, then deadlines are missed. Or, again, money saved 
from the staff reduction is lost from the time and half paid out for the amount of overtime worked to make up the slack. And, recently, the staff has voluntarily reduced 
itself by just quitting. Stressed out employees, even in a bad job market, would rather take the risk of being without a job for a while than stay where they will only be 
on the receiving end of more stress, and abuse.
     I hope this helps in some way. Good luck to you.
     Paul Lockwood
1/13/04 12:45:19 PM, eileen dusek  wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>A Pathologists was told by the "bean crunchers" they were overstaffed. What is your opinion?
>The lab does approximately 22,000 cases, Immunos on the Benchmark and a few Special Stains. The gross room is covered 95% of the time by Support Techs. 
This work load is performed by 2 FTE's and 1 Bench Supervisor. As we know the supervisor cannot bench all the time.
>Eileen Dusek
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