Recruiting New Employees

Who, what, when, where and how:

It is a 100% certainty that with any practice you will need new employees at some point in time, either to replace employees who leave or to help the practice grow. Where do you find the type of people you want to work with, people that you can trust and who will want to see your practice succeed?

Posting on the Internet and in the Newspaper:

The most obvious resources to use in recruiting new personnel are the internet and the newspaper. Before we discuss the ad itself, let’s take a look at some basics. The best place to place your want ad is going to be online. There are several websites that you can use to find a qualified employee, such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, Glassdoor.com, and Craigslist.com.

Never lower your standards when looking for a staff member. Keep your standards high and remember that you not only want a top quality person, but you deserve that person! Your practice growth depends upon people who are bright, energetic, sensitive, intelligent and outgoing. Be willing to compete for that type of person.

Also, realize that the type of person you are looking for may not be actively looking for new jobs. Some of the most qualified individuals already have jobs, but they may be looking for a change. These individuals may seem like “cold prospects,” but they actually do skim through the want-ads just to see what is out there. So, it is very important to develop an advertisement that will attract the person you are looking for.

For newspapers, Sunday is definitely the best time to run your ad. Even though newspaper sales have been declining in recent years, it isn’t out of the question to use it as a means of finding new hires. Running an ad on both Sunday and Monday would be the most successful combination because people who are looking will look through Sunday’s paper and continue “looking” at least through Monday’s paper. Do not waste your valuable ad dollars by advertising right before a major holiday, as people are less likely to read the classifieds. They are too involved with other matters, and will usually look after the holidays.

Part two of this article will go over tips on how you develop your ad and how to use hiring agencies.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “Recruiting New Employees – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Bonus Plans

The subject of bonus plans has bewildered practice owners for quite a long time. The theory—create an incentive for staff to do exemplary work—generally makes sense. The difficulty is in the implementation. When you tread into the realm of bonus plans, you are entering a minefield. If you construct a bonus plan correctly it can be a very useful tool for you, the executive. But when done incorrectly (and for every right way there are countless wrong ways) it will blow up in your face and create a terrible work environment; your staff will be livid. And when the dust settles, you, the besieged practice owner, will be likewise incensed, as you will feel unfairly attacked when all you were trying to do was to find a way to pay your team more.

Why does this all go so wrong?

First, let’s look at this from the staff member’s perspective. No matter how the bonus system is structured, it’s essentially all about money. While the old adage, “Never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table” is sage advice, neither of those subjects provokes as much emotional reaction as when you tamper with someone’s pay.

Consider how salaries and wages are set up. It’s fundamentally based on exchange. A staff member is hired to do a certain job. Money is given in exchange for that work. Anyone who has ever held a job understands that basic concept. He knows that if he were to consistently do poor work, he will be dismissed. Consequently, most personnel strive to do a good job. In return they expect remuneration and they expect it to be consistent. If an owner constantly changes the pay scale, the staff would understandably be upset. In other words, agreements are in place that are a matter of routine: work ‘x’ number of hours and get paid ‘y’ amount. When and how much a person will be paid then becomes predictable and dependable. There is nothing arbitrary or capricious about it.

Predictability is the Key

So, this brings us to one of the basic problems with many bonus systems: bonus plans are neither predictable nor dependable to most staff members. Here’s an example: In many practices, bonuses are doled out on a whim; the owner feels that this month’s production was better than usual, so he wants to share his good fortune with his staff by distributing some of the profits to them. They obviously like this and want to experience such generosity again. The next time monthly production is exceptionally high, there would understandably be an expectation of a similar bonus. And when it doesn’t materialize, resentment ensues.

What has been violated is “predictability.” To earn their basic check, staff members know they need to show up and do good work. This will predictably lead to a paycheck. However, with the bonus, there is no such predictability. The practice had a similarly good month but the staff was not rewarded as before. Now they resent the owner and view him as a cheapskate; the owner, in turn, is left wishing he had never doled out a bonus in the first place. So, what started out as a generous act on the owner’s part has now become the source of dissatisfaction on everyone’s part.

Nevertheless, the owner, who still perceives some benefit to the implementation of a bonus plan, makes adjustments and sets up an actual bonus structure: If the practice does ‘x’ amount of production, the staff will get ‘y’ amount of money in the form of a bonus. So now there is predictability.

But upon closer inspection, we see that predictability still eludes the staff. For if production consistently increases, so will the expenses associated with obtaining it. Consequently, the owner must increase the amount of production required (‘x + 5’, for example) to earn the same ‘y’ bonus. And the unintended result is that the staff loses predictability again. From their point of view, just when they started making consistent bonuses, the owner suddenly changed the rules and moved the goal line further away, making it more unlikely that a bonus will be earned. And their concern is that even if they were to somehow achieve the new production goal, the owner would again change the rules. And he’d be viewed as a cheapskate once more.

Lack of Control = No Bonus

 In addition to the problem of predictability, there is the issue of control. Oftentimes the team can work hard to achieve a production goal, only to see the practice fall short of the named target. In that event, they will become frustrated, as the carrot (incentive) has been dangled in front of them, but they don’t know what they can do to make sure the practice reaches its target. In other words, they don’t know what to control that would help to achieve the stated goal. They work hard, perhaps work through lunch or take less breaks, and pay close attention to their workmanship. Those are all efforts on their part to control something that can be controlled: their time and quality of work. But when that still doesn’t result in the practice reaching the targeted level of production, staff morale will most assuredly plummet. They will feel as though they are just a cog in an enormous machine wherein their individual efforts can’t affect the overall income of the practice. And when they reach that conclusion, they will cease making the extra effort and then for sure the intended goal will never be attained.

This dilemma of staff feeling that they aren’t able to effectively contribute and resultantly help to control the income level of the practice is one of the most common problems in virtually every practice I’ve analyzed. In most cases, I traced back the source of this predicament to the owner not knowing how to identify all the parts of a practice that affect income. By the way, did you know that in a solo-doctor practice there can be up to 12 or even 15 such areas? In a multiple-doctor practice there are more than that! Once those areas have been identified, the owner must place a staff member in charge of each area and develop a statistic to monitor it and then teach the staff member how to control the area so as to keep the stat at the appropriate range. The owner who can accomplish that is the owner who can control his or her own economic destiny.

Bonus Plan Inequity

Let’s return to the subject of bonus plans. In addition to the problem of the staff’s inability to effectively control the attainment of targeted income goals, there is also the sense of inequity or unfairness that most bonus systems create. The majority of bonus systems are set up to take a certain amount of money and divide it among the staff, generally in proportion to the number of hours they work. But in most practices, you’ll find a few superstars who do the majority of the extra work required to reach the target. They are the ones who talk to patients about referring friends and family when the other staff members are reticent. And they are the ones who are more productive than their co-workers on an hourly basis. But when those superstars see everyone being rewarded equally, despite the obvious differences in the quality and quantity of the work being done, resentment emerges. Consequently, they stop putting forth the extra effort. After all, why should they work so much more diligently if they will be paid the same bonus as those who don’t make the extra effort? And, of course, the irony is that when the superstars start cutting back on their efforts, the goal won’t be achieved and NO ONE gets a bonus!

Profit-Based Bonus Plans

Poorly crafted bonus plans also create problems, mainly financial, for owners. Bonuses are supposed to be calculated and paid on profit, i.e., the money a practice makes after accounting for all expenses (often referred to as the make-or-break point or overhead). If a bonus system starts to pay out before profits are achieved, then the owner has effectively taken a pay cut.

Based on analysis of many thousands of practices, we can conclude with certainty that most owners don’t know how to correctly figure out their make/break point. One of the reasons for this is that those owners don’t take into account the non-monthly expenses when calculating overhead. Examples of such expenses are repairs to equipment, equipment replacement, money set aside for reserves or for staff training, etc. Since those aren’t bills the owner deals with on a recurring monthly basis, it’s easy for them to be excluded from the make/break point calculation. But they are expenses and will eventually have to be paid. Therefore, in most practices, the make/break point is actually higher than what the owner believes it to be. Consequently, the bonuses levels can be tied to income goals that don’t correctly take into account the actual profit being made.

Summary of the Situation

These are the main reasons bonus systems can fail to function well:

  1. lack of predictability for the staff
  2. the staff’s perceived inability to proactively control the production or income that would achieve the bonus
  3. bonus distribution that is not based on level of contribution
  4. bonus levels set incorrectly.

While other factors might cause bonus programs to be problematic for the practice, those listed above are some of the biggest culprits. And the result of that is the opposite of a win/win scenario. The team is unhappy and perceives the owner to be a cheapskate. On the other hand, the owner is resentful, shocked or even furious that his or her efforts to help the staff make more money are not just unappreciated, they are attacked. What a mess!

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Screening Applicants

The Group Interview
Finding a new employee is a very time consuming process. To consolidate efforts and streamline the initial stage of the interview and selection process, have all of the applicants who meet the basic criteria come into the office for a group interview session. The purpose for this is that it consolidates the office manager’s efforts, giving you an opportunity to get a look at the applicants and screen out those whom you do not care to invest any more time in. The finalists from this segment will then be invited back for an in-depth individual interview.
Once you have collected all of the resumes from your advertising, go through them and screen out those that do not have the qualifications you are looking for. Take into consideration whether or not the applicant included a cover letter and whether that letter really communicates something about the applicant. Look at the experience, background and talents being conveyed in the resume and letter.
The First Interview
Phone those applicants that appear to be the very best and schedule them to come into your office to fill out an application. During this phone call you can rate their phone voice and composure and get a bit of a feel for their willingness. Make notations on the resume. Schedule all of the applicants for the same time, e.g., an evening after work or on a Saturday morning.
Make preparations ahead of time. Have packets of paperwork ready for each of your applicants. Their packets will contain an application, a questionnaire, a sheet that they will fill in with their employment goals and what their understanding of a practice is. They will also be asked to write a brief collections letter and sign an Authorization for Release of Information form.
When the applicants arrive, welcome them and deliver a brief statement (10 minutes or less) about the practice, its purpose/mission and the position. Then, direct them to the pre-printed packets handed out. Have them:
  1. Fill out their Job Application Essays.
  2. Fill out their Hiring Questionnaire. Asking them what your practice is about, its purpose, the position that they are applying for and a few negative and positive things about the position or practice.
  3. Write a brief letter to a client who has an overdue account (which gives you a good indication of how the person deals with others on sensitive matters).
  4. Sign and date the Authorization for Release of Information form.

As the applicants complete their forms, rate them on their appearance (1-5) and take them individually into a private office to conduct a brief interview (about 5 minutes for this first interview). This will give you a feel for the person.

Before your applicants leave, give them each a card for a complimentary exam at your office. (This is optional, but could garner a new patient even if not hired). Thank them all for coming in and let them know that they will be hearing from you within the next couple of days.

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Putting New Employees on the Job

Practice owners bring on new employees for a variety of reasons. Often, when practices are undergoing expansion of production and income, they require increased staffing. Or, due to poor past hiring procedures practice owners find that they have to replace some employees who are poor performers. There is a natural attrition rate as well when a staff member moves out of town, gets a higher paying job, etc.

Many past Practice Solution articles have been written on numerous aspects of our successful hiring procedures, including testing, how to conduct proper interviews, how to weed out non-qualified candidates, legally acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask, etc. You’ll find some of those articles in this issue of Hot Tip.This article will go over some of the best actions to implement when putting new employees on the job.

Once you’ve decided to hire a new staff member, the first thing to do is have them complete all appropriate paperwork. This would include signing whatever employment contract you use as well as having them read all of the appropriate office policies and attesting to having read them.

Personnel File

A personnel file is vital for maintaining proper documentation on every employee. You can set yourself up for legal problems in the future if you don’t have this properly in place. Therefore, creating a personnel file for the new employee is one of the first things you should do after hiring the person.

The office manager should create a personnel file for the new employee which contains:

  • The full job application and the resume turned in during the hiring process.
  • Any other forms used in the hiring process.
  • Any tests taken.
  • Any interview notes, write ups, etc.
  • Employment contract.
  • A copy of the policies the new employee read and signed.
  • A checklist of everything the office manager will be doing with the new employee to bring them onto the job. Make sure the checklist is filled out as each item is done.

As the new employee becomes a regular employee, the personnel file should be constantly updated with job reviews, disciplinary warnings, commendations, etc. The personnel file is your key management tool for documenting everything having to do with that employee, from the time they are hired until the time they leave, for whatever reason.

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Providing a Firm Foundation Through Written Office Policy

A Way to Avoid Common Confusions in the Workplace
In order to function most effectively as a team, agreements must be known and adhered to for smooth, efficient coordination and cooperation. This is also known as “policy.” As long as people know what the rules of the activity are, and those guidelines are clearly presented as being in the best interest of the activity, the policies will be followed, and a smoother operating environment will result.

Policy that is understood, agreed upon and adhered to will strengthen the practice in the achievement of its goals.

Even the “policies” that are in your head and that you figure “everyone knows” should be put in writing. Because that may not always be the case, by putting all policies in writing, problems and confusions that could otherwise surface will be curtailed and even eliminated.

It is advisable to create your “General Office Policy” to address fundamental issues that affect every practice. In addition, policies relating to specific areas of the practice should be properly documented. The practice should maintain a Master Policy Manual, and each employee should have his or her own copy of the policies of the practice.

Once a General Office Policy Manual is developed, the practice will continue to generate new policies as time goes on and as new issues and situations present themselves. When creating a new policy, place a copy in the Master Policy Manual and distribute a copy to each relevant staff member. Request that the staff then send written compliance to the office manager that they have read and understand the policy and that they have placed their copy in their respective manuals.

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Recruiting New Employees

Who, what, when, where and how:

It is a 100% certainty that with any practice you will need new employees at some point in time, either to replace employees who leave or to help the practice grow. Where do you find the type of people you want to work with, people that you can trust and who will want to see your practice succeed?

Posting on the Internet and in the Newspaper:

The most obvious resources to use in recruiting new personnel are the internet and the newspaper. Before we discuss the ad itself, let’s take a look at some basics. The best place to place your want ad is going to be online. There are several websites that you can use to find a qualified employee, such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, Glassdoor.com, and Craigslist.com.

Never lower your standards when looking for a staff member. Keep your standards high and remember that you not only want a top quality person, but you deserve that person! Your practice growth depends upon people who are bright, energetic, sensitive, intelligent and outgoing. Be willing to compete for that type of person.

Also, realize that the type of person you are looking for may not be actively looking for new jobs. Some of the most qualified individuals already have jobs, but they may be looking for a change. These individuals may seem like “cold prospects,” but they actually do skim through the want-ads just to see what is out there. So, it is very important to develop an advertisement that will attract the person you are looking for.

For newspapers, Sunday is definitely the best time to run your ad. Even though newspaper sales have been declining in recent years, it isn’t out of the question to use it as a means of finding new hires. Running an ad on both Sunday and Monday would be the most successful combination because people who are looking will look through Sunday’s paper and continue “looking” at least through Monday’s paper. Do not waste your valuable ad dollars by advertising right before a major holiday, as people are less likely to read the classifieds. They are too involved with other matters, and will usually look after the holidays.

Part two of this article will go over tips on how you develop your ad and how to use hiring agencies.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “Recruiting New Employees – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Dealing with a Problem Employee

Private Practice Owner Reading EmailI received an email recently from a doctor having a staff problem. I replied to her and thought this might benefit some other people out there. Please see our discussion below:
Hi Ken,

As an employer, how can you tell your employee to stop his/her: gum smacking, not to laugh at the end of each sentence, to stop blowing her nose as everybody can hear it, to stop asserting herself on someone else’s conversation?

I have such a hard time saying something to my assistant about these issues. Everybody in the office is being affected, and I am not happy at all with her. I try my best to tell her what I would prefer from her as an employee, but it hasn’t worked.

Please help me.

Dr. S

My Reply

Dear Dr. S,

There are several things that can help you in this current situation and help prevent this from happening in the future. This is a bit of a lengthy reply due to the nature of your problem. Please take the time to read through this as I believe it will give you some insight into the problem and how to handle it.

The first, and probably the most important thing is to make sure that you have very detailed job descriptions and office policies in place. In your office policy manual, there needs to be written policies about acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior. When new employees are hired, they are given a copy of this policy manual, and they are to read and sign off on them. This lets them know what is and isn’t permitted in your office. They agree to this, and you now have legal recourse for disciplinary action and/or termination for non-compliance.

As new policies are written, a copy is handed out to all employees for them to read and sign off on. These signed agreements are added to their personnel files. These can then be referenced in regular employee evaluations, disciplinary actions, and if needed, termination situations.

If, however, you only deliver your requests verbally, you leave these requests open to interpretation. It is imperative to have everything in writing so that there is no room for interpretation.

The other underlying issue that I see here is hiring the right people to begin with. There are three steps here:

  • Attracting the right kind of employees,
  • Determining who to hire, and
  • Training them to do their job properly after you’ve hired them.
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When you are looking to fill a new position, the wording of your ad/listing is key. Where you are advertising is also a big factor. Utilizing employment agencies that pre-screen applicants to your qualifications can greatly increase the quality of candidates that you see, weeding out the lower quality people ahead of time.Determining who to hire is a shot in the dark for most doctors. They read a resume, conduct an interview and take a shot. No one writes on their resume that they are chronically late, don’t take directions well and can’t get along with others. What you see on a resume is only what the applicant wants you to see. Similarly, all you hear in an interview is what they want you to hear. They say the right things or at the very least what they think that you want to hear in order to get the job.

After they are hired they stay on their best behavior until they get comfortable; then, they become themselves. Only then do you know who you’ve really hired.

You need a more objective way to screen and hire people so that you have a better idea of who they are, what kind of personality they have, their responsibility level, their aptitude and their work ethic. Corporations have been hiring people this way for years. Small businesses suffer through much higher turnover rates due to their lack of successful hiring techniques.

Personality tests, IQ tests, Aptitude tests are all implemented to get a feel for who a person really is and how they will fit into your practice and interact with the staff, more importantly your patients.

Once you have hired the right person, you need to make sure that you train them properly. This is where detailed and up-to-date job descriptions and office policies come into play. It is vital that you equip your new employee with the proper tools to do their job rather than throw them to the wolves and hoping they pick up the proper way to do things as they go.

Here is a policy regarding employee performance evaluations. Take a look at this as I think it will give you an idea of the kinds of policies that should have a place in your office policy manual.

—————

Performance Evaluations Policy

Private Practice Employee ManagementWe have established a procedure for evaluating job performance on a regular basis. These performance evaluations are vital for future planning and provide fair, timely and objective measurement of the performance of job requirements.

We conduct at least two evaluations of a new employee during the first year. The first after approximately 90 days of employment, and a second evaluation is completed after 9 to 12 months of employment.

Thereafter, each staff member receives a performance evaluation at least twice per year.

We will notify you of the time scheduled for your review at least seven days in advance. This gives both of us an opportunity to prepare so that areas of mutual concern can be addressed.

The performance appraisal is designed to:

  • maintain and improve job satisfaction by letting staff members know that we are interested in their job progress and personal development,
  • serve as a systematic guide to recognize the need of further training and progress planning,
  • ensure a factual, objective analysis of an employee’s performance as compared with job requirements,
  • help place employees in a position within the practice that best utilize their talents and capabilities,
  • provide an opportunity to discuss job problems or other job-related interests,
  • serve as an aid in salary administration,
  • provide a basis for coordinating goals and objectives (those of the employee and of the practice), and
  • give recognition for superior performance.

The performance evaluations will address job factors and behaviors that are observable, measurable and specifically related to job performance. The factors we consider are:

  • quality of work,
  • employee relations,
  • patient relations, and
  • job knowledge.

Salary adjustments are not necessarily made at the time of the performance evaluation.

——————–

Your current situation is a volatile one. This person is causing you stress, is making the other staff uncomfortable, and is bringing the overall morale of the practice down. Patients can and will pick up on this, and it will negatively affect their experience at your practice. Doctors that are uncomfortable with leadership and necessary confrontation and communication will often let these situations go until they fester and burst into a hostile situation. Good employees can leave a practice when a bad employee is not confronted and handled. If you don’t implement better hiring techniques followed by detailed job descriptions and office policies, you open yourself up to the possibility of lower quality employees who don’t get trained well and further diminishing your current staff. Ultimately this will cause stress for you and conflicts with your staff. However, if you hire higher quality employees and equip them with all of the tools needed to perform their job, you will find that they are more inclined and able to deliver what is needed and wanted by you, and they will strive to achieve it.

Please feel free to call me if you need any further clarifications or help: (800) 695-0257.

Sincerely,
Ken Derouchie

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Termination Series:

Guidelines to Follow When Terminating

This article is a continuation of our termination series. To view the previous article, click here. This series will go over how a termination decision should be made, how the organization handles problems before making a termination and how to convey the news for a constructive face-to-face termination. There are specific guidelines when terminating because all of these factors will impact strongly on the employee’s perceptions, their consequent motivation to act on their emotion negatively and the way your current employees will view how you handle these and following situations. It’s up to you to make a termination something that is going to aid you and your practice or something that could collapse it.

The materials that follow will help you make a better decision and, hopefully, provide communication guidelines for handling the situation as confidently and gracefully as possible.

Guidelines To Follow When Terminating

  1. When To Do It: The best advice is to communicate the decision as soon as possible to the employee.
  2. Time of Day: The end of the workday is preferable when everyone else has left; this saves embarrassment.
  3. Witness: Do have a witness present. This offers protection as well as evidence that various things were or were not communicated.
  4. What To Tell Others: Simply let your staff know that ____________ (name) is no longer with the practice. If anyone has questions, tell them it is company policy that they would have to ask the person themselves.
  5. After the News: It is wise to escort the employee out of the practice or else the anger often present could result in some destructive actions; necessity depends on the person and particulars of the situation.
  6. Reasons: An employee deserves the respect and the dignity of knowing why they have been discharged. To fail to communicate or to try to cover something up with the employee is sure to provoke more outrage on the part of the employee. Convey the reason very simply; do not engage in a long discussion about it. Communicate it with respect. However, you need to use caution in what you communicate; we are in a litigious society, and you don’t want to give them grounds for a wrongful termination suit.
  7. Firing Your Friend: This is hard to do, but has the built-in trust that will allow communication between you and your friend to help them understand. This does require you to be tough, as it would not be good for you to continue to carry a friend in a job when their performance is disastrous.
  8. References: The safest policy to use as your guideline is the work history, their statistics, their performance-review results, written warnings and reprimands, etc.
  9. When the Employee Begs: If an employee begs for a second chance, you have got to be tough and be willing to explain things yet without the slightest indication that you don’t stand by your decision.
  10. Arguing the Reasons: Don’t argue with the employee. Indicate that you have the specific documentation supporting the reasons. If, on the other hand, the employee’s arguing convinces you something has been overlooked, then indicate you will check it out immediately or as quickly as possible.
  11. Breakdowns: Do nothing unless your safety seems to be at stake. Let the catharsis run its course, then resume appropriate discussions. If the breakdown continues, let the employee know that you understand and that you will give them a moment to regain their composure before completing the meeting.
  12. Written Statement: Providing a written termination statement for the employee is a bold communication that relays your ultimate confidence in the matter. Understand that the written statement could become part of the legal record and must be clear and strong enough to stand up in a legal arena.

The above are guidelines intended to help you in this area. It is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice. You should consult an attorney on any specific legal problems that might come up with employee discharge.

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The Basics on Bonus Plans
Getting Staff to Produce the Quantity you Need and Want

It is very wise to have a bonus plan for staff in operation in your office. If you reward staff for increasing their production and the production of the practice, they will naturally want to continue to do that, and the whole staff will tend to operate much more as a team.

In structuring a bonus plan, the simpler you can make it for yourself and your staff, the better. Bear in mind that you want the staff working as a team and that there are several areas of concern. Consider the following:

The best bonus plans are ones that get the entire staff working together towards increased viability for the whole practice, while rewarding their own increased production. A plan that gives staff bonuses when the practice is not viable is a loser for the doctor/owner. At the same time, not providing bonuses to staff for their increased production when the practice is getting more and more viable provides no incentive or reward for the staff and will lead to a less cohesive and productive group. So, you have to put together a system that takes into account the major statistics of the practice, the viability of the practice, and the individual production of the staff members.

Certainly, you want higher production statistics, but if you pay bonuses only on increased production, you could be painting yourself into a corner if the collections do not keep up with the production. You could be paying bonuses out of your own pocket!

At the same time, generally, only one person is handling collections. But even so, a team effort can come into play in this area. Staff members who do not formally have anything to do with collections can still be of assistance by not overburdening the person in charge of collections with other matters. The staff can offer to help out with getting statements out. If appropriate, the staff can offer to perform other helpful functions (as time allows) so that the person in charge of collections can handle financial matters. All staff should be cognizant of relaying important financial related information to the accounts manager if they become aware of a situation that could affect the financial area. Additionally, the better service a patient/client receives, the easier it is to collect payment. All staff can contribute to collections by doing their own jobs well.

If the staff is focused only on production statistics, they may not focus an appropriate amount of attention on promoting new patients/clients in the practice. New patients/clients coming into the practice is one of the prime factors involved in your being able to generate more production and collections. The new patient/client area ties in closely with the growth and viability of the practice. All staff can be responsible for the inflow of new patients/clients into the practice by their own promotion from their job area, as well as outside of the practice.

The point becomes self-evident. The staff must be focused on all of the above and working as a team to keep all of those statistics going up. The practice will grow, and they will be rewarded for their contribution to that growth. At the same time, the practice’s viability must be looked at.

The following is a very simple and effective bonus plan suggestion:

  1. For starters you must confront the viability status of the practice. Determine what the break even point of the practice is – what it honestly costs to operate. Don’t forget reserves too! It is advisable to confer with a consultant on this as he/she will be able to help you determine whether or not you have considered all factors. As you are determining this figure, take into consideration the fact that the practice does have variable expenses, so you will want to average those figures in. Work them in on the high side to ensure that you’re not cutting yourself short.
  2. Once you have determined what the baseline viability figure of the practice is, you will know exactly how much you must bring into the practice to keep the doors open and operate in a solvent fashion. Remember, it is better to figure high than to cut yourself short. You now know that anything above that figure can be used for giving bonuses to the staff.
  3. You would now take a percentage of the amount that is above and beyond this figure to be used as a staff bonus fund. This could be anywhere from 15% – 20%. Of that percentage, you would figure what percentage each staff member would be paid as a bonus. This could be based upon seniority of position (the office manager would probably be bonused more than the receptionist), years of service, etc. Each individual staff member would be eligible for their share of the bonus amount based upon whether they have met their own individual production quotas. In this way, the staff are being rewarded for helping to make the practice solvent and viable and for their own production that contributed to the solvency level of the practice.

SAMPLE: Cost of operation is $20,000. Production target is set at $24,000. Collection target is $22,000. A New Patient/Client target would also be set to keep staff focused on all three areas. If all three targets are met, the staff bonus plan operates for the month.

Let us say that the Production target is met, the collections are at $22,000 and the New Patient/Client target is met. The staff would then qualify for their bonuses.

You would take the amount collected over the baseline viability figure which in this case is $2000. Let’s say that you are putting 20% into the bonus plan which, in this case, would be $400. Let’s also say that you have four full-time staff, and you work out that the office manager gets 30% and each other staff member gets 23.3% if they made their own production targets. So, the office manager would get a $120.00 bonus, and the rest of the staff would get a $93.20 bonus. That is a very nice incentive for the staff and allows the owner to get a nice bonus as well.

It is suggested that the percentage amount that goes to bonuses be based upon the present viability of the practice. If you are just starting this and don’t have much in reserves and are just covering your bills, you would put a smaller percentage toward the bonuses and use the rest to pay off bills and build reserves. As you build more reserves and get debts paid off, you become more and more viable and can thus afford to put a higher percentage toward the staff bonuses.

The effectiveness of this bonus plan lies in the fact that each staff member knows that they need to reach established targets to qualify for bonuses. They also know that the more they produce, the more bonuses they will get and that nobody wins unless they and the practice all win. Thus they will want to push the statistics up and the practice will expand due to the focus and teamwork of the staff. Everybody wins!

We are now offering a no cost, no obligation 1 hour phone consultation for practice owners that have questions about private practice bonuses systems. Schedule a 1 hour complimentary call with one of our research experts now!

Staff Management Distress Solutions

Staff Management Distress Solutions

I’m sure many of our readers are very familiar with The Practice Solution Magazine’s phone surveys. Our team of surveyors speak with doctors all over the country, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Given the busyness of your schedules, we definitely appreciate it when you take the time to speak with our team. The information that you provide enables us to more closely concentrate on articles of interest to you and your staff.

With that in mind, we have found from our recent surveys that one of the most distressing areas for most doctors is the managing, hiring and controlling of staff. Every person is different, and human interaction within small practices oftentimes can be nerve-racking, volatile and frustrating. You have probably found that not everyone thinks like you do, cares as much about your practice as you do, or is as willing to work extra hours as you do.

We definitely recognize the frustration that can occur with losing an employee whom you have just invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training. One of the most important things that you can do to bolster your practice is to ensure that all of your staff are fully trained and operating on the same page. The optimum team is one that knows what their specific duties are; how to do those functions without any difficulty or emotional issues in other words, strictly professional; and what the other staff are should be doing.

When staff are competent, work is more efficient, morale is higher and the doctor can just be the doctor instead of the referee or babysitter.

In this issue of The Practice Solution Magazine, we provide articles addressing employee issues like staff meetings, setting production targets, and what your responsibility is as the leader for your staff. If you implement the suggestions within these articles, you may find some of your frustrations disappearing, and you may get even more support from your front desk because they will have a better understanding of what you need as the practice owner, which will enable them to become more competent and more professional.

Request Part II Instantly: Suggestions on Staff Correction