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Your practice is only as strong as your HR and management infrastructure. To ensure a thriving practice in 2016, here are five tasks on your to-do list.
A lot of factors have to come together for a practice to thrive. You need a great team, great patient relationships, and the right infrastructure of policies, procedures, and management to make everything run smoothly - and if you’re like many independent physicians, you spend your days juggling all of those works-in-progress. But when you think about your top priorities for your practice in 2016 are any of your goals HR-related? If not, they should be!
Here are five HR must-dos that will make your practice safer and stronger this year.
Ask the “five-year question” about every employee.
When you think about your practice as you want it to be five years from now, would you hire each of your employees again, to help you get there? If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes!” for everyone, identify what’s going wrong. Are you giving yourself all the support you need to coach and manage employees successfully?
More training, resets, and all kinds of other options are available to today’s owner or manager. In the end, not all employees may be right for your practice - but before taking any adverse actions, make sure you have documentation in place supporting your management decisions.
Review and update employee job descriptions.
Keeping employee job descriptions up-to-date tends to fall off doctors’ and managers’ radar - you’re busy! But this task is worth the time. When properly written and kept current, job descriptions are a critical tool for managing employees more effectively and decreasing your overall liability.
Why are they so powerful? Job descriptions are written summaries of the duties and requirements for each position in your office. They help you reach out to the right candidates when hiring, and assist your employees in understanding their roles and responsibilities. But because a well-written job description should include a comprehensive list of the physical and mental requirements and essential functions of each position, it can also act as a written record if something just isn’t working out.
Job descriptions are equally important if an employee ever becomes disabled and you have exhausted all options for reasonable accommodation. In this case, a properly written job description can be your most effective defense to a claim of disability discrimination.
Put yourself first. Are you motivated and engaged?
Great HR starts with you - the employer. Turn some attention inward and make sure you’re still learning and growing, both as a doctor and a manager.
• Join a professional association, coaching program, or online forum. A support system is invaluable when you’re trying to stay independent while building or developing your practice. Plus, you’ll learn new HR and business strategies to make life easier.
• Schedule at least 1 continuing education or training course on HR. Staying up-to-date is an ever-present challenge, but it’s important! Luckily, there are tons of learning opportunities out there.
• Engage your team by engaging yourself. Statistics show that great managers make a difference to whether employees are engaged.
Along the way, don’t forget to read at least one book that will make you a better leader. One of my favorites is Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman.
Self-audit your pay practices.
Independent physician practices aren’t always experienced with the intricacies of employment laws. To make sure you’re not making a dangerous and costly mistake, analyze the following areas:
• Misclassified independent contractors. This is an all-too-common situation, and the federal government cares a great deal about unveiling it, since tax dollars are at stake.
• Misclassified exempt employees. Having to pay years of back overtime pay for an employee you thought was “exempt” is PAINFUL!
• Travel and training compensation for non-exempt employees. The Department of Labor often looks at travel and training policies and pay first when analyzing the merits of employee complaints!
Update your employee policies.
Since state and federal employment laws are always evolving, your employee handbook can be your best friend OR your worst enemy. To be the former-and to help you manage both better and more safely-it must be kept continually up-to-date by experts (don’t try this at home).
If it hasn’t been updated in the last year then it needs to be thoroughly checked. Not knowing you’ve fallen out of compliance isn’t an excuse if the Department of Labor comes knocking.
Areas where your policies likely need updates include:
Making sure your employee policies are all up-to-date and legally compliant is THE MOST important HR step you can take this year - and I recommend that you do it right away, by contacting an HR expert you can trust. Cheers to a successful 2016!
Paul Edwards is the CEO of CEDR HR Solutions, the nation’s leading provider of customized medical employee handbooks and expert HR support for medical practices of all sizes and specialties. He can be reached at 866-414-6056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.