Finding the right staff for your dermatology practice is not an easy task. Searching for the elusive combination of knowledge, dependability, great customer service and outstanding work ethic can make finding a unicorn less of a Herculean task. When you do find “the one”, a collective sigh of relief spreads throughout the practice and one more problem is solved.
However, as great as it feels to find the right fit, it is devastating to lose a good employee. Not only will you need to start the recruitment process again, but other employees take notice when their teammates start to leave. They become increasingly frustrated with their workload and start thinking about leaving as well. The only thing more important than hiring the right team is keeping them. A recent study uncovered the surprising top seven reasons staff leaves a practice and some tips on how to avoid losing them.
1. The reality that the company culture is not what was described on their interview
It is great to be proud of the practice you have built, but if there are issues, it’s important to be honest. If you have created a culture where cosmetic patients know they can be fit in after the last patient, tell your candidate. It is essential that they know they may be working later than the “last patient”. If you have a bonus plan based on revenue, share with them how the cosmetic patients contribute to that revenue an why accommodating them makes the difference not only to the practice, but the individuals who work there too.
2. The person hired is not qualified either in experience or personality to do the job at hand
Filling a position is important; at times, it can feel like your business is crippled without having someone to perform a task. That said, a practice will oftentimes hire a “body” and assume they will confirm to the position. If the candidate doesn’t seem warm and engaging at their interview, they will not likely become that when you put them at the reception desk. Consider the responsibilities involved but also the experience you want your patients to have when they come to your practice. Interview with the idea in mind of getting to know what your candidate enjoys and dislikes, mostly to try to assess if they are a good fit for the position.
3. Inadequate training program
Training and mentoring takes time and effort. It is essential to have a strong on-boarding process established. Identifying strong trainers on your team and providing incentive for them to mentor a new hire can go a long way. Reference materials for processes or quick reference guides can be incredibly valuable to a new hire and will give your trainer some breathing room to get their own work done. Remember: Even the best new employee needs guidance and feedback over the course of several months, not hours or days. Taking the time to provide a good training program will ready your staff and your practice for success.
4. False sense of advancement opportunities
Many new hires leave their previous positions because they are looking to advance. If you believe there is opportunity to grow then discuss it at the interview. Consider if there will be new service lines added or a chance to breathe new life into a current program with the right person leading the charge. Often there is opportunity to create a new sales program for products or hold events to highlight your practice that had not been possible before with fewer staff on your team. Can this candidate’s previous experience help in any way to grow the practice?
If, however, you know your infrastructure is pretty set and you are simply replacing a position, be honest and tell them.
5. Feeling undervalued or unappreciated
One of the biggest complaints of employees is they do not feel valued. Value is not about financial reward; it is about perception of being needed and that their efforts are recognized. At times, the business issues of a practice take over and the day-to-day employees are forgotten. Set up a recognition program where efforts are noted and co-workers can highlight each other. Do not discount the power of your words to your staff. From small notes of thanks to earning vacation time or points towards cosmetic treatments, it is about the on-going recognition that fuels staff. Whatever you chose to do, take time to appreciate those that are helping you succeed.
6. Unrealistic expectations
Pressure in practices to see more patients with decreasing reimbursements and keeping up with documentation requirements drains your staff tremendously. Adding more evening hours or weekends may be effecting your staff and their responsibilities at home. There are times when staff cannot keep up with the workload that they were able to handle just a few years ago. Reviewing your staffing levels and lists of responsibilities may reveal you need to hire additional staff to be able to adjust expectations for productivity.
7. Lack of trust in leadership
Communication with the staff is essential to the workings of the practice, especially during times of change and stress. Staff looks to the practice leaders for honesty when communicating plans that effect them. If you are thinking of hiring additional staff, let them know! They may feel overwhelmed in their positions and are becoming more frustrated. Hearing help is on the way may give them something to look forward to and lets them know you are in-tune to their concerns. Without communication, staff begins to lose faith in leadership and their foundation begins to crumble.
How do I know if my staff is unhappy?
If you have not done so, sending out an anonymous staff survey will help to uncover if there are any of these issues in your practice that have already started and give you an opportunity to adjust how your practice operates. A staff survey does not need to be long, but the best questions are open-ended rather than “scoring” on set areas.
- Name the three best things about working here.
- What are three things you would change about working here?
- What are three things you would like to see improved about your job or department?
The results may be a little uncomfortable, but you cannot fix what you do not know. At the very least, your staff will appreciate the opportunity to discuss their opinions and help to open the doors of communication.