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Staff Retention Leads to a Successful Practice

Written by Tammie Lunceford on December 8, 2015

Warren Averett visits many practices throughout the year performing medical practice assessments. The first items we review include staffing levels, length of service and each staff member’s role. The administrator is a key component to engaging the staff.  Increasing the level of staff engagement can raise productivity 20 percent and reduce the probability of a staff member leaving by 87 percent.

Effective communication begins when administrators hire an employee for a specific position which is detailed in a job description. The process continues with proper preparation for onboarding. This is essential to adding value to the employee/employer relationship. The first day should begin with orientation, discussion of the handbook, employment paperwork and the introduction of the training plan. More than five percent of employees leave a new job due to a disastrous first day.  It is important to equip a new employee with the tools to learn, such as a mentor, and a checklist of key tasks they should be able to perform within the first 90 days.

Once an employee is past the probationary period, career development goals should be set.  Ongoing communication and training is essential to engaging the employee and creating buy-in within the organization.

Annual evaluations are useful in rewarding good performance, and also setting goals for further development. An evaluation should not be the first time an employee learns of a performance problem. Problems should be addressed at regular intervals with specific directions for improvement. The evaluation should only report the need for continued improvement or acknowledgement of success.

During an office review, I sometimes find the administrator has simply turned new staff members over to the most knowledgeable employee. If the seasoned employee was not trained effectively, how successful could they be at preparing the new employee? The better performing practices have an effective training program, regular staff meetings and incentive programs to engage the staff. I recently assisted a practice that was struggling following the loss of several key employees. They could not even generate financial reports to realize the extent of their problems. Your staff is your most valuable asset and losing them can be costly. Considering loss of production and training time, it can cost 150 percent to replace a valuable employee.

Cross-training employees to perform tasks outside of their job description is a good way to assure you can get through a short-term absence or the timeline to replace an employee. Documented best practice workflows should be obtained from your practice management vendor and EHR vendor to assure you can train appropriately. We are assisting practices in changing their employee bonus structure to reward performance and buy-in. Take care of your best asset – the staff you have trained, and who knows your practice. Need assistance? Please contact a Warren Averett Advisor who can assist you with all your recruiting and staff management projects.

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