Staffing Budget Got You Down? Understand FTE’s | Staff Budgets, a one dollar bill, turned into a puzzle piece

Staffing Budget Got You Down? Start With Understanding FTE’s

“I love budgeting”- said no one ever. Budgets, and in particular staffing budgets, can be a major pain point for nurse leaders as staffing consumes a majority of the unit’s finances. So how do you find the sweet spot between a well-balanced budget and well-staffed unit? After all, research has shown that the higher the nurse-to-patient ratio, the fewer medical errors and the higher the patient satisfaction scores. Of course, flexing staff in accordance with your unit’s census is crucial to maintaining good productivity levels. But how exactly do you measure the amount of staffed work hours or FTE’s the unit will need at a given time? And what will it cost?

Below is a breakdown of how to calculate FTE’s which can be used to maintain a well-balanced staffing budget:

  1. In this calculation, an FTE is one full-time employee, or a combination of employees who’s work hours add up to full time. This would be 80 hours for every 14-day period or 2,080 hours total per year.
  2. The following calculation can be used to determine how much time and budget allocation one person consumes:
    • Hours per day the employee works × Days per pay period the employee works/80 hours (number of hours an FTE works in a 14-day pay period)1

8 hours per day × 7 days per pay period = 56 hours per pay period divided by 80 hours/FTE = 0.7 FTE
12 hours/day × 7 days/pay period = 84 hours/pay period divided by 80 hours/FTE = 1.05 FTE

Using these tools you can more accurately calculate the amount of staffed work hours or FTE’s and the associated cost. When used in concert with the unit’s typical census, you can find the sweet spot between a well-balanced budget and well-staffed unit.

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Staffing Budget Got You Down? Start With Understanding FTE’s


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