Compensation and benefits are only part of the staff retention puzzle.
Few things are as important to your practice as building a team to carry out the purpose of your practice, the value of having one great office manager you can rely on is widely recognized. And in a larger practice, a great team can make a business not only highly profitable but more importantly an enjoyable place to work each day.
So what is the secret to building a staff-driven practice? What is the difference between those practice owners who are fortunate to secure great staff and the rest who struggle to locate even average candidates for employment?
There’s no one factor that makes the difference. It’s actually many things, including the appearance of the office, the amount of responsibility delegated to each employee, the level of organization within the practice, the purpose of the organization, and staff compensation and benefits.
Warming up the workplace
Here, let’s consider compensation and benefits and how they relate to building a staff-driven practice, which is one that does not depend on the personality of the doctor to grow. It has systems in place that can be successfully run by staff members, and patients arrive for the healthcare services offered by the clinic. This is in contrast to the situation in which most doctors find themselves—surrounded by low-producing employees.
The only way to build a staff-driven practice is to secure and maintain high-quality employees. You must sow a workplace culture of responsibility and production. The practices that accomplish this also have low staff turnover, high morale, great patient care, and usually a high profit margin.
Contrary to what you might expect, pay rates and benefits are not the most important things for the majority of job applicants. Candidates will have certain financial obligations and these will largely determine the pay that they demand. Most people, however, admit that their workplace environment, their co-workers, and the purpose of their job are more important than their pay rate.
With this in mind, take a look at your office. What do new candidates see when they arrive for the interview? What does their future workstation look like? Simple improvements to your practice environment can go a long way toward securing your next great employee.
During the follow-up interview, emphasize the purpose of your practice when discussing the position with an applicant. If you don’t have a particular purpose you can express succinctly, then put some thought to exactly what your purpose is and how it is best expressed.
Measured to scale
Of course, at some point, you and the candidate will need to address the compensation and benefits that you are willing to provide in exchange for their work. Both federal and state laws impact what you can (and can’t) offer your employees. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, lawsuits against employers in the U.S. steadily increased from 2005 to 2012, and have only slightly decreased since. It’s worth knowing the rules of the game, so check the ideas discussed here against the laws that apply to your region.
When determining pay structures for your staff, adopt the financial motivation of a business owner—specifically, the better you are at your job, the greater your income potential. This should be similar for each employee in your practice. The more productive the employee, the more income he or she should be able to earn.
The honest way to measure an employee’s production is with statistics. Use the proper metric to measure a staff member’s actual production. The way to assign a statistic is to look at the position and determine the main outcome it produces.
An easy example is the insurance billing post—the statistic should be “insurance dollars collected.” Other posts may require more thought. Most positions can be monitored with a few stats, but usually one statistic best represents the overall work accomplished over a given period of time.
Most people like a pay structure that offers a level of stability and also the opportunity to earn more with high production. This allows them to feel comfortable taking the job, which will at least cover their basic bills but also gives the opportunity to create more value in exchange for higher pay.
To arrange compensation for a chiropractic receptionist, chose a base pay and then set up a bonus system based on the number of patients who arrive for their appointments each week. The idea is that most tasks executed by the typical receptionist are aimed at keeping patients on their recommended care program.
Sample receptionist pay scale
- Base pay: $10 per hour
- Bonus Pay (per week)
- 0–50 patient visits: $0
- 51–60 patients: $0.25 per visit 61–70 patients: $0.50 per visit
- 71–80 patients: $0.75 per visit
- 81–90 patients: $1.00 per visit
You can rework these numbers to suit the economics of your area and your practice. For larger practices, the scale can go up through three, four, or five hundred visits. Adjust the scale to fit your practice and what you think the candidate will need to earn to take the job.
The key takeaway is to set up payment so employees are financially motivated to be more productive.
Other considerations are benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. With recent changes to health insurance laws, a growing number of small businesses are dropping their group plans, but most large companies and government agencies still provide health benefits. If you find yourself competing in this type of market, health benefits may be something to consider.
Retirement plans can be an important factor that retain long-term employees. Smaller employers, however, are often daunted by the administrative costs of such programs. A qualified financial planner can help you determine if offering such a program is right for you.
If you don’t choose to offer a retirement package, other options can help reward key employees and compel them to stay with you. One example is a whole-life insurance policy. These policies can be purchased by the company, and they build up cash value over time. An agreement can be made that the policy is turned over to the employee after a set number of years.
An advantage to this product is that it can be offered to select employees. Again, consult a financial planner for more information on this or other options that can be offered to your best staff members.
The willingness of your team to work for you is a vital component of your business. Harvest it to its greatest extent because when it happens, everyone wins.
Eric Huntington, DC is the president of the Chiropractic Business Academy, a chiropractic training and consulting group that assists chiropractors in building stable, profitable practices by teaching time- tested, proven business systems. He can be reached at 888-989-0855 or through robizacademy.com.