Explaining Nurse Pay Packages-Have You Had the “Bucket” Talk?

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By: Shari Dalton

January 4, 2018

By: Mindy Milligan

How many times have you seen or heard about all the pay packages that your competitors offer?  How your pay package doesn’t have this or that?  Do you feel like a salesman when you have to try and find a way to sound like you are wheeling and dealing?  Maybe it’s time for “The Talk”.  Not the birds and the bees, but the faucet and the bucket.

Here is the thing, most travel companies want to find great ways to entice new travelers and roll out new ideas and “special” packages.  So many travelers have been confused and mislead by all the options out there.  It is time to start giving your travelers what has been called the “Bucket Talk”.  In order to have this conversation effectively a recruiter must have a good understanding of how traveler pay and facility bill rates work.

There are some hard core facts that travelers should know and this is how you can explain it to them.  Every dollar an agency brings in is produced from billable hours that facilities pay for.  The Facility is the faucet and each contract is a bucket.  The facility pays a set bill rate for billable hours that are worked.  So a contract has a value or a “Bucket of Money” that is produced by the Bill rate multiplied by the billable hours.  Since that is the only incoming revenue for the agency, everything comes out of that amount.

So let’s start with being honest that almost nothing is FREE.   You can move money all around and give this, that and the other thing but it all still comes up to the same bucket of money.  How you divide it up can make a lot of difference to the traveler, so it is important that they understand what they are getting and how to ask for what they want.  Recently travelers have hit the hot topic of requesting facility bill rates in order to understand if they are getting paid fairly.  Well this request for transparency is not as cut and dry as people think.  The bucket conversation can help give travelers a better understanding of “where all the money goes” and “what piece of the pie” they are getting.

A full 36hr/wk contract is 468 hours minus any non-billable orientation.  To figure out a pay package an agency and/or recruiter must account for all the other burdens and fees and offer the best options with the money that remains.  We then take out the taxable wage (likely $20/hr) and the employer taxes that are paid as part of the burden for social security, unemployment tax.  Then the reimbursements, insurance, bonuses or other items paid to the traveler.  After that the cost of credentialing and any overhead/burden for cost of business. What is left is the profit for the company.  As with any business, the employees will not likely get to see all the working pieces.

Travelers are looking to better understand how recruiters come up with their pay, so explaining that the resources are finite within the confines of the bucket can help them to see that each pay package may look totally different, when in fact they are similar.  Encourage your travelers to ask questions about each pay package to break down what is included and what might be listed as additional perks.  When travelers learn to compare apples to apples the real deciding factors will come down to which recruiter made the best experience.  Isn’t it time you talked about the bucket?

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