Ten Ways To Retain Top Staff

By Anthony Leone, Special Projects Editor

It would have been devastating to his practice if it happened. She knew the operation of his office and losing someone like her would have sent his professional life into a tailspin. Hal Ornstein, DPM, said one of his office workers felt that she could not grow anymore in his office and was thinking about leaving. Dr. Ornstein had just the cure for her: more responsibility in a leadership role. “It would have been bad if I lost her,” he states. Finding quality staff is hard for many podiatrists but keeping them is even harder. Given the higher profile of podiatric medicine in recent years, patients are constantly filling waiting rooms. Having a qualified staff that knows the ins and outs of your office is essential for keeping and maintaining a successful practice. With this in mind, a few podiatric physicians and practice management consultants shared their secrets for retaining top employees. 1. Why Simple Gestures Of Appreciation Go A Long Way It may seem simple enough but in a frantic day in the doctor’s office, it is easy to forget to say “thank you” to a staff member. The real key is to make your staff feel appreciated. “Like showering, if you want to stay clean, you have to do it every day,” says Dr. Ornstein. He says doctors should show their admiration to their personnel, whether it is a “thank you” when they are handed something by the staff or just leaving them encouraging notes. John Guiliana, DPM, agrees, adding that rewards and incentives are nice but giving positive feedback is very important. “In fact, most staff that I speak to feel that the most important aspect of their job satisfaction has to do with self-fulfillment and a feeling of being appreciated,” says Dr. Guiliana, who has a New Jersey practice. 2. Pertinent Tips About Bonuses And Incentives Of course, everyone likes a pat on the back but people do enjoy material recognition. Nicholas Romansky, DPM, will give a hard-working employee an extra $50 to $100, or even an extra paycheck if they work especially hard on a project or even around the office. Dr. Ornstein concurs with Dr. Romansky about bonuses but he also did something unusual for one of his new staff members who is a single mother. She was concerned about being away from her children so he gave her a cell phone to keep in contact with them. “That is the one thing that she talks (to people) about,” says Dr. Ornstein, who has a 16-year-old practice in New Jersey. An additional perk that he suggests is to have a pharmaceutical company’s sales representative wine-and-dine a staff member instead of you. Dr. Ornstein says this will make the staffer feel important. Another bonus for Dr. Romansky’s team of 17 is that he works with Philadelphia sports teams. A nice reward for hard-working staff may be tickets to games or even concerts. Some employees not only want to be challenged in the office, they want to be credited for it as well. “Since the staff is a practice’s biggest asset, I am often shocked how reluctant physicians are to invest in them,” states Dr. Guiliana. “Projects with clear and concise goals and objectives lend themselves well to a bonus structure. An example might be a business development plan or a plan to reduce accounts receivable aging.” 3. Be Flexible With Employee Time Another great benefit for harried workers is giving them the freedom to come and go in the office as long as there are firm rules in place, note Drs. Romansky and Ornstein. For example, if someone has a family event he or she wants to attend, the employee can go and make up the time later that day or during the week. However, it is important for staff to know that unless there is a critical reason why they cannot come in later or leave early or take a day off, they are free to do so as long as they give you advanced notice and make up the time. 4. Have An Open Door Policy That Is Wide Open Communication is the key to any business. Allowing your staff to know what you expect from them and letting them know they can come to you is vital not only for the day-to-day operations but the future of your practice as well. With two offices in Pennsylvania, Dr. Romansky says it is a little tricky having an open door policy but he does manage. However, no matter where he is, he says it is important to him that his staff knows they are always welcome to talk to him about office issues. Dr. Romansky says it is also important to treat staff as you would want to be treated yourself.

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