5 Creative Ways to Keep Your Healthcare Staff Happy

Whether your practice has been treating patients for years or you are just getting started, you need great employees in order to be successful. Failing to keep high performers can leave your practice understaffed, with a less qualified workforce, and ultimately hinder your ability to provide quality patient care. In fact, the cost to replace a highly-trained employee can exceed 200% of their annual salary!

We understand that replacing employees and hiring new healthcare professionals is expensive. And the cost of doing business in healthcare continues to rise, as reimbursements continue to fall.

How do you keep your staff happy without drastically increasing costs?

Create a Sense of Community

The more support your employees feel from each other, the better they will work together. If patient scheduling and time permits, encourage your staff to eat lunch together by creating a comfortable communal area with snacks, coffee/tea, and water. Hold opportunities for staff to get to know one another outside of work by having events like family picnics, holiday parties, or potlucks a couple times a year.

Huddle Up

Take a few minutes once a day or on a weekly basis to have a “staff huddle” to share stories, recognize employees, and get to know each other on a more personal level. This is also a great time to ask for feedback and insight from your staff and ensure that everybody is aligned around shared priorities, patient needs, and practice goals.

Encourage Staff to Take Time Off

The best way to recharge is to take time off. While giving all your employees a week off during your busy season is not realistic, encourage your staff to take a day off when they need it. Create a culture where the staff is encouraged to support each other and take care of themselves. Employees shouldn’t feel guilty about using PTO; they’ve earned it!

Student Loan Repayment Assistance

A growing trend in healthcare is offering a program to provide financial assistance to help your staff pay off their student loans. Including this program in your benefits package is a great way to attract and retain recent college graduates. In fact, according to Forbes, “student loan repayment is the hottest employee benefit of 2018.”

Offer Personal and Professional Development

Besides financial compensation, growth is one of the biggest driving factors of successful employees. Give your staff the opportunity to grow by offering seminars, trainings, book clubs, medical certifications and more. Personal and professional development opportunities are significant drivers of employee engagement.

A happy staff is a more productive staff, and a more productive staff provides better patient care, which ultimately leads to an improved patient experience. Use these tips to get started and you’ll notice the positive impact it can have on achieving your overall business goals.

To learn more about how to improve your private practice, check out our latest ebook, “How to Improve Patient Care Through HR Excellence.”

How to Write Job Descriptions That Attract the Right Candidates to Your Private Practice

Attracting top talent in the highly competitive Hawaii market is challenging, and it’s especially hard for the healthcare industry. Like attracting patients into your practice with effective advertising, how can you get in front of the right candidates?

The first step to finding the best person to join your staff is the job description.

The job description is often the candidate’s first glimpse into your workplace culture, and if done right, will encourage the right candidate to apply while also minimizing applications from unqualified candidates.

For example, do you offer half days during the week? This may be a draw for candidates who are looking for flexible scheduling. Or does your practice support a charitable cause? This initiative might be enticing to candidates looking for a philanthropic perk in their compensation package. Do you offer tuition reimbursement? The cost for continuing education isn’t always accessible for some. Finally, while it might seem odd to list things like “free healthy snacks” or “paid continuous education”, these benefits not only carry weight in the total compensation package, but also gives candidates an idea of your practice culture.

Here are 6 tips to keep in mind as you create the perfect job description:

1. Use Clear and Searchable Words in the Job Title

Creating a clearly stated job title that is relevant to the job and easily found on job boards and search engines is the first step in attracting the right candidate. The job title is not the place to show your quirky or creative side; use a job title that explains exactly who you’re looking for. For example, Medical Office Assistant is going to bring in better results for your practice than Medical Office Ninja.

2. Outline Job Responsibilities Clearly

When you’re interviewing a new hire, you want candidates to have a good idea of what the job entails. That’s why it’s essential to outline responsibilities clearly in the job description. This ensures that a prospective hire is on board with the position before the interview process starts, ultimately saving you from wasting your time interviewing candidates that don’t fit.

Here’s an example of how you might outline the job responsibilities for a Medical Office Assistant:

  • Answer multi-line phone system and take appointments or direct calls to the appropriate party
  • Greet patients when they arrive at the office and provide them with any necessary paperwork or other information
  • Collect co-pays and other fees required prior to the office visit or treatment
  • Direct patients to the lab area for scheduled blood work and other testing
  • Verify insurance coverage and assist the billing department with processing claims
  • Schedule appointments and confirm appointments two days in advance
  • Assist patients with re-scheduling appointments and other scheduling issues
  • Communicate test results to patients when directed by physicians or nursing professionals
  • Inform patients of credit card declines and other billing issues

(Source: Indeed.com)

3. Set a Salary Range

Setting a clear salary range in the job description helps to screen candidates before the interview process begins. It allows for differences in experience, education, and negotiations to be made. A range will also protect your practice against bias. And because salary is often a reason people look for a new position, listing salary ranges can save time on both your end and the prospective employee’s.

4. Describe Your Company Culture

This is your opportunity to showcase your differences and describe what it is like to work for your practice. For example, does your staff do monthly pau hanas? Have rotating weekends off? Offer a wellness program? Share the qualities that make your practice different from the competition.

5. Keep the Skills List Short and Sweet

List the skills that are most important to the job. Many job descriptions list skills that are not directly applicable to the job or are so broad no one feels as though they have every desired skill. Be sure to include both “soft skills” (like communication, problem solving, or a calm bedside manner) as well as “hard skills” (for example, proficient in a certain billing software, a degree in Nursing, a specific certification (like medical transcription or coding), or expertise in a program). List exactly what you need from the right candidate.

6. Highlight Working Relationships

We know that building employee relationships is crucial to productive and efficient employees, and these quality relationships begin in the job description. Tell the candidate who they will be working with and reporting to (Tip: By posting the open position on LinkedIn, candidates will also be able to see who works at your private practice, getting a sense of the team before coming into the interview). This, along with providing a short segment about the current employees, will show people are proud to work with the practice and give the candidate names and glimpses of personalities before they’ve even walked in the door.

Clearly stated job descriptions will not only help you attract top healthcare professionals, , but are an effective way to monitor and assess performance for both your new hires and existing employees. A well-written description sets the level of performance expectation, and can be a good guide to staff reviews. For more tips on how to improve HR in your private practice, check out our latest ebook, “How to Improve Patient Care Through HR Excellence.”

An Employer’s Guide to Hawaii’s New Salary History Ban

Earlier this year, Governor David Ige signed a bill into law which prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Hawaii’s Equal Pay Act, also known as the Salary Ban Law, takes effect on January 1, 2019.

So what do you need to know?

While it’s true these changes mean many businesses will have to look at their hiring practices and potentially make changes to their application process and training, the new law also offers an opportunity for employers to modernize their business practices by creating a formal compensation philosophy or strategy.

Ultimately, getting your hiring process and compensation strategy up to date will help you attract quality employees — and retain them for the long haul.

What It Means

Under the new law, you can’t ask applicants what they earned at their last job, or anything else about their salary history. You also can’t use what you know about their past salary to determine their pay, benefits, or other compensation during the hiring process.

What’s more, employees have the right to discuss their wages or ask about what others earn, and you can’t punish them for discussing salaries amongst themselves.

Why Not Ask?

So why not just ask? The purpose of the law is to end the cycle of pay discrimination. Even today, women in Hawaii earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. When an employee’s salary is based on what they earned in previous jobs, unequal pay can be perpetuated years into the future for women and minorities.

Related content: What's Trending for Women in Business

And Hawaii’s not alone in taking on this issue. Eleven other states, including but not limited to California, Oregon, New Jersey, and New York, have passed salary history bans, along with cities like Chicago, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

What You Can Do

First of all, let’s talk about what you’re still allowed to do under the new law. If a job applicant brings up their previous salary — voluntarily and without prompting — it’s OK to take that information into consideration but it shouldn't be the sole basis.

You can also ask an applicant about their expectations around pay. While re-framing the question in this way is still legal, it’s a sticky question that you’ll probably want to avoid. Instead, you can discuss objective measures of the applicant’s productivity, like revenue, sales, or production reports, or criteria like experience, education, and skills.

Finally, if you conduct a background check to confirm other details of their application, and it happens to turn up information about their previous salary, you haven’t broken the law — as long as you don’t then use that information as the basis for their new compensation package.

How to Stay Compliant

If part of your hiring process includes asking about salary history or current pay rates, you will need to make some changes.

Here are two things you can do right now:

🗹 1. Start by updating all of your application materials — both paper and electronic — and remove any references to salary history. If you’re a ProService client, we’ve already done this for you!

🗹 2. Next, take a look at everyone in your organization who’s involved in the recruitment and hiring process, and make sure they’re trained on the new requirements. (Share this post with them or check out our free, on-demand webinar to learn more.)

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the new law includes reference checks and background research, so staff should know not to do an internet or public document search for prior salary history, for example.

Build a Better Process

Obviously, pay is a huge part of the hiring discussion, and employers need some way to make reasonable salary offers. The good news is, there are alternative and better ways to do that than to ask about an applicant’s salary history.

Think of this as an opportunity to develop a compensation strategy for your company, or to improve your existing strategy, if you already have one. Consider objective criteria like experience, education, and skills, and then use that to create a salary or pay range for a job.

Compare and Contrast

It can also be useful to look at what other companies are paying for similar jobs. One tool we use at ProService Hawaii is Payscale, a service that gives us access to the world’s largest database of salaries.

Tools like Payscale can be used to generate reports showing employers the market value for a job they’re trying to fill, and they can be customized based on experience, education, and other criteria.

And since the reports look at a broad range of salaries, and not the salary history of an individual candidate, they’re perfectly legal under the new law. Once you determine your compensation criteria, you’re free to inform the job applicant about the proposed salary or salary range for the position.

Bottom Line

As you take another look at your compensation philosophy and strategy, it’s good to remember why you’re doing it. By law, pay practices are supposed to be consistent, non-discriminatory, and not arbitrary. The whole purpose of the salary history ban is to end pay discrimination and to prevent past inequality from being perpetuated into the future.

By following best practices and basing your compensation on objective measures, you’re making your hiring process more fair and transparent, eliminating uncertainty, and building trust for both yourself and your employees.

Let Us Help!

As an employer, running a business means adhering to federal, state, and local employment regulations. The list is so long it’s actually quite hard to keep track of what you have to do to stay compliant.

So whether it’s Hawaii’s new salary history ban or the State’s Paid Family Leave Bill (SB-2990) that’s undergoing analysis to determine its impact — let an HR partner like us help you navigate Hawaii’s highly regulated environment. Schedule a free HR consultation to learn how our HR services can power (and protect) your business.

The Holiday Bonus Guide for Small Businesses

With the end of the year quickly approaching, many small business owners are starting to consider giving their employees a holiday, or year-end, bonus. And it’s not a bad idea! According to World at Work, 82% of employers give out bonuses.

Of course, there is not just one right way to show gratitude—so we’ve put together The Holiday Bonus Guide for Small Businesses that encompasses everything you need to know when it comes to paying bonuses to your employees.

First, let’s take a look at what kind of bonuses employers are giving:

Cash vs. Non-Cash Alternatives

When it comes to annual bonuses, cash is not the only option. In fact, according to a recent survey of small businesses planning on giving bonuses this year, 60% plan to give their employees cash, while 40% plan on giving non-cash gifts or other perks.

For example, extra time-off is generally valued by most employees, and it’s mostly free for the company to give. Alternatively, flexible hours, personalized gifts, or even a holiday party with a free dinner and a raffle giveaway is a great way to engage employees and create a sense of community among co-workers.

Next, let’s take a look at the most popular types of bonus structures:

  • Flat dollar bonuses
  • Performance-based bonuses
  • Percentage or tiered-based bonuses
  • Company-performance based bonuses
Flat Dollar Bonuses

By giving employees a flat dollar amount, in most cases ranging from $50-$5,000 with the median being $300, this type of bonus is typically received with the least amount of drawback. Since the bonus amount doesn’t vary from employee to employee, it’s an opportunity to appreciate your people equally.

For example, we all know the holidays in Hawaii is all about food and family, so something as simple as a gift card to Foodland or another local grocer can be an easy and practical way to appreciate your employees (and their families) during this season.

Performance-Based Bonuses

Annual bonus programs that reward employees based on expected—or exceeding—performance are designed to incentivize employees to deliver superior results, all year round.

While some companies may have financial rewards in place—for example, 5% of an employee’s annual salary for meeting their set goals—other small businesses may offer an alternative, non-cash reward like additional paid time off or a company-wide retreat or experience.

Percentage-Based or Tiered Bonuses

This next type of bonus structure rewards employees with a certain percentage of their salary at the end of the year, assuming the company met their overall revenue goals. There are many ways to structure this type of program taking years of service, department goals, performance, and other factors into consideration.

For example, an employee could expect to receive an additional 2% of their annual salary at year one, but jump to 5% after being employed for five years. Or an employee at the manager level might earn a larger percentage than an associate.

Annual Bonuses on Company Performance

Being transparent about company performance on a monthly basis can be a good driver for employee engagement when annual bonuses depend on it. What does this look in practice? Let’s say your company is on track to bring in $1M this year and your bonus plan is 2% of total revenue. If your team is comprised of 20 people, this averages $1,000/employee.

When employees know what to expect, no one is surprised at the end of the year. For example, this year, you might be able to give an average of $1,000/employee, and next year, if earnings are up, you might bump it up to $1,300/employee.

Final Thoughts

It’s worth mentioning that depending on your business type, end-of-the-year bonuses can be listed as a tax-deductible business expense. However, it’s important to consult with your financial manager or accountant about tax implications prior to committing to annual bonuses.

In conclusion, while there aren't any cut and dry rules to follow when it comes to holiday or end-of-the-year bonuses, we hope this holiday bonus guide provides you with some actionable thought starters as this time of year approaches.