January 31, 2012
Employee satisfaction is important for any business, but this is especially true in medical practices because employees have a big impact on patient experience.
"We strive to keep our employees happy and invested in our medical practice," says Rebecca Seay, Director of Marketing at Arthritis & Sports Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy in Sterling, Va. "We truly value our employees' satisfaction and I believe when they're happy they deliver a better service to our patients. We have set in place many ways to keep our employees involved in and out of the workplace."
Here are eight ways orthopedic practices can increase employee satisfaction.
1. Hold activities for employees to bond outside of work. Physician practices can often be busy and employees may not have a chance to form a bond with their co-workers during regular hours. Having a practice-wide outing two or three times per year can give employees a chance to learn about each other outside of work. It also gives them something to look forward to during long days at the office.
"The outings we have range from baseball games to happy hours," says Ms. Seay. "I think it's nice for people to spend time with one another outside of the office. This allows employees to form bonds unrelated to their position and ultimately helps them work better as a team."
2. Communicate with employees regularly. It's important to keep employees abreast of changes or updates with the practice so they feel more engaged in the business. Keeping employees informed also prevents rumors and speculation about what might be happening in the future. "Make sure everyone knows about your strategic plan, changes to that plan and how those changes affect them," says Karen Codere, senior human resource specialist with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and workplace management services. "Make sure everyone knows what they need to know so your employees aren't busy fighting rumors, or making them up."
Depending on the size of the practice, you may want to hold large or small group meetings to update employees regularly, especially if the office is going through a big change. "These meetings don't have to be too long — they can be 15 minutes, but employees feel more involved and focused afterwards," says Ms. Codere. "If your group is entering into a new venture, you want all employees focused and going in the same direction to achieve that goal."
3. Send out a monthly newsletter. Even in a small group, sending out a monthly newsletter with practice updates and employee accomplishments can make your staff feel more connected in the workplace. Ms. Seay coordinates the monthly newsletter at her practice and sends reminders throughout the month for employees to contribute any news.
"Each month, we feature our employees as they have different accomplishments in their lives," says Ms. Seay. "We also use the newsletter to keep the lines of communication open. Since our physical therapy practice is separate from our orthopedic practice, we use the newsletter to connect our growing practice."
Ms. Seay sends both a print and e-mail version of the newsletter to employees. The newsletter also includes important future dates, office events and more "fun" content — such as recipes or cross word puzzles. Additional sections of the newsletter feature patient success stories and profile an "employee of the month."
4. Participate in volunteer and charity efforts. An important part of bringing employees into your community is making a commitment to give back to the community. At Arthritis & Sports Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy, the physicians and staff participate in at least one volunteer or charity effort per month. Often, these efforts include raising money — employees often donate at least $5 — for a cause, but it can also include gathering other types of supplies for those in need. For example, the practice donated over 160 lbs of food this November to Loudoun Interfaith to help provide Thanksgiving meals to local families, and $380 to the Sterling Volunteer Fire Department in October.
"We donate to the troops at least once a year," says Ms. Seay. "We have veterans in our office, so it's important to recognize them and give back to those who are currently serving our country. Other months we ask employees to recommend charities that need donations. Someone might have a daughter whose Girl Scout troop is raising money for summer camp or if a big event happens — such as the earthquake in Japan — we'll donate our collection to those funds."
During holiday months, the practice will collect food or toys for local distribution. This past year, the practice sponsored a team for the Arthritis Walk in Washington, D.C., through program called "Give a Doct a Bone." For this effort, our whole staff encouraged patients to donate a dollar for the fundraiser. In exchange for the dollar, patients were able to give their physician or physical therapist "a bone" — or a paper cut-out of a bone, which was hung up in the office. At the end of three months, the physician with the most "bones" won a prize.
"We raised over $1,500 from that fundraiser alone," says Ms. Seay. "It was fun for the front office to engage in the efforts and gave them a sense of pride."
5. Incentivize employees appropriately. Employees in your practice will respond to positive incentives — which often have a monetary value. Incentivize employees to work at their top level with fair and reasonable salaries, says Ms. Codere. "Depending on how your practice works, you can provide incentives based on profitability," she says. "Or you can incentivize employees based on individual goals. Everyone looks favorably on cash incentives."
However, there are other types of incentives that employees find equally as motivating. Practices can provide tuition assistance for continuing professional education or daycare bonuses so employees with families have an easier time staying at the workplace. Non-financial rewards, such as time off, are also very popular. Finally, you can give office-wide awards for goals that the office meets as a whole.
"Employees appreciate being recognized for their strengths, contributions and growth with awards," says Ms. Codere.
6. Hold grand rounds for the medical staff. The physicians at Arthritis & Sports Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy began holding grand round meetings each week to strengthen the lines of communication and trust between the physicians and other medical professionals. The practice has four physicians, four physician assistants and one nurse practitioner. Each week they gather together and discuss the cases they saw over the past five days. Additionally, they analyze a "mystery case" where the physicians give symptoms and ask the other physicians and PAs to diagnose and prescribe treatment.
Often the physical therapists from the practice join the grand round meetings as well. Nobody is allowed to miss these meetings when they are scheduled to attend, which makes the time sacred between the medical professionals. "The grand rounds help keep our service model consistent between all medical staff," says Ms. Seay. "The medical professionals have protected time each week to communicate with one another."
7. Evaluate each employee individually and often. It's important for managers to evaluate their employees regularly so employees don't have to guess about how they are performing at their job. Every employee should be evaluated individually based on their job description, performance metrics and goals. Even between formal evaluations, giving employees praise or brief instruction can help them progress professionally.
"Give employees kudos for what they did or let them know how things should have been done so they can change their behavior," says Ms. Codere. "Celebrate achievements for individuals and the office as a whole. This gives employees a sense of fulfillment, which can make the office run smoothly, helps you retain the best people and helps you provide excellent care to your patients."
Provide employees with a job description and devise a performance appraisal process so their efforts are quantifiable and you can measure achievement and growth. Companies such as Insperity can provide the infrastructure for these types of human resources endeavors.
8. Consider outsourcing human resources services. Like in any other business, physicians really need to focus on what they do best: practice medicine. "Physicians are experts at treating their patients," says Ms. Codere. "There are other professionals who are experts in assisting you to manage and optimize your workforce."
Outsourcing human resources and workplace productivity services allows practice leaders to focus on the day-to-day operations of the practice and their patients' medical needs without worrying about employee satisfaction levels. "When employees are positive and motivated, your patients will have a better experience at your practice as well," says Ms. Codere.
Related Articles on Orthopedic Practices:
10 Tips for a Prosperous Merger Between Orthopedic Groups
8 Upgrades for Orthopedic Practices This Year
How to Grow an Orthopedic Practice: 4 Business Principles of DISC Sports and Spine Center
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