We hear it from practice administrators all the time – employee retention is a massive issue, particularly among front desk and medical assistant positions. Here are 4 keys for retaining and recruiting medical practice staff at your office.
With unemployment hovering at around 3.5%, skilled and competent people are jumping ship for literally a few cents more an hour.
Hiring and training a new team member is expensive, costing between 50-75% of an employee’s annual salary. However, 93% of employees indicate that they will remain at companies who invest in their careers. Therefore, investing in employee retention makes a lot more sense than having to recruit and train new employees.
Implementing an employee retention strategy helps reduce turnover, boosts patient satisfaction, and enhances the overall experience of your employees. Below, we break down four keys to recruiting and retaining the best medical practice staff.
1. Strengthen Employee Engagement
Research confirms that bolstering employee engagement leads to increased patient satisfaction, improved efficiency, and decreased turnover.
An array of factors impact employee engagement in healthcare, including:
- Unpredictable schedules
- Excessive overtime
- Heavy workloads
- A lack of flexibility in the workplace
Engaging your employees with job-specific training from the date of hire encourages them to buy into your brand and message, assures they understand the critical role they play in the overall patient experience, and equips them with the knowledge and tools to deliver the goods.
As a practice administrator, you have additional tools in your kit to strengthen employee engagement:
- Recognize excellence (with annual recognition dinners, awards for exceptional service, or extra time off)
- Celebrate teamwork
- Conduct surveys to learn about the most critical issues affecting your staff
- Take action on the results of the surveys
- Do informal check-ins with employees
- Communicate and manage change effectively and promptly
2. Promote Teamwork and Communication
Delivery of positive patient experience is a team effort, and everyone at your practice plays an integral role. Providing excellent patient customer service requires a particular skillset, and it’s the administrative team’s role to ensure that each staff member acquires said skills. Developing communication skills among team members is vital for reducing errors, resolving conflicts, and creating clarity around tasks.
Effective communication between leadership and employee teams is also essential. One of the biggest reasons employees leave a practice is the lack of communication between management and staff. Leadership may think they are communicating effectively and that the message is received as intended, but often, this is not the case.
The first step to improving communication within your practice is to train the leadership team on best practices within the office. Consider hosting an annual, offsite facilitated retreat for leadership members to learn how to communicate with each other and with employees effectively. Teams can successfully prioritize tasks and understand how their roles fit into the practice’s big-picture strategy when leadership can communicate expectations and organizational goals.
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3. Invest in Personal and Professional Development
HR research suggests that almost half of employees view career advancement opportunities within their organization as very important to their job satisfaction, and 40% regard their organization’s commitment to professional development in the same light. Organizations that dedicate a portion of their budget to professional development send a message that they invest in their employees. Establishing an employee development plan encourages valuable staff members to remain engaged with your practice, as they recognize opportunities for future growth.
The experience your office staff provides determines patient satisfaction. From billing and the front desk to nurses and phone staff, your entire team interacts with patients, making it crucial for each one to cultivate those valuable soft skills essential to providing quality patient care. By teaching employees job-related skills like communication, conflict management, and collaboration, your team will be equipped to approach internal and external situations with a customer-centric attitude.
Setting up ongoing training programs ensures that your employees have the tools to help them achieve their career goals, enhance the patient experience, and support the practice as a whole.
4. Recruit Smartly
If you do need to invest in recruiting new talent, the more due diligence, time, and effort spent upfront to find the right match, the better off your practice will be. Too often, practice administrators rush the process by “needing to get someone in quick.”
Establishing the right fit the first time around will prevent your practice from having to repeat the process all over again. Of course, there is a balancing act in today’s buyer’s market for healthcare professionals. Independent practices may not be able to compete with the salaries offered by hospitals.
Therefore, you should focus on what makes your practice unique and build on what you can offer employees that hospitals cannot. Vacation perks, a close-knit team, extra personal time, and recognition awards are a few benefits independent practices can extend to potential recruits.