For eye care professionals, the focus is mainly on the patient: ensuring that they receive eye care in a professional way. But once the patient has gone home, they may have other things on their to-do list, like ensuring that staff is hired, trained and retained.
So why can it sometimes be so hard to do? Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, of Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy in Riverhead, New York, says it has to do with some aspects of a practice that may fall lower on some practice’s priority lists. Read the full version of the article that Dr. Zilnicki wrote for Eyes On Eyecare here.
Many companies are having a hard time finding and retaining staff nowadays. It can be difficult to find the time between meetings, appointments and managerial duties to train a new staff member without taking time away from other office needs.
However, it’s worth it in the long run. Having a booklet of all the “must knows” for each role in your office may seem like a daunting and time-consuming task, but at the end of it the office will have a comprehensive guide for all staff members to reference. And don’t skimp on this guide, either—everything should be discussed, from the correct way to answer the phone to how to handle insurance claims. This will keep your staff up to date on policies and procedures, keep your office consistent and ensure a more efficient process for patients. It’s also important to make sure doctors, techs and vision therapists feel comfortable before they work on their own. This not only helps give the patient a better experience but reminds your staff that they are just as important as everyone else on the team. This can help staff retention.
“We want our staff to feel like we care, because we do,” Dr. Zilnicki says. She makes sure to greet each staff member every day, because she knows she appreciates when someone does it for her. She says she enjoys hearing about their kids and how their day is going, because what’s important to them is important to her. “We have cultivated a supportive work environment, so the staff feels more like family than employees,” she says. It’s important to remember that staff are more than that—they are often parents, siblings, children, friends and more. Their job isn’t their entire world; help them focus on what is important to them. This includes giving adequate vacation time and being understanding of certain situations. Be there for your staff, and they’ll be there for you.
Yes, workplace camaraderie and friendships are important. But the workforce wants more than that. They also need to feel like they are getting more out of the relationship, including benefits of different kinds. This can include a 401k match, scheduled raises, workplace reviews that help them build themselves as professionals and even workplace events and luncheons. Giving your staff a better experience will help them look forward to coming to work—and a happy staff can keep your patients happy, too. “We try to make reviews as in-depth as possible and challenge our staff to grow within the office and their roles,” Dr. Zilnicki says.
Improve your overall patient experience by prioritizing each experience, one by one— staff included. Invest in keeping policies and procedures up-to-date, and make sure everyone in the office is keeping track, too. This will ensure a safer working environment for patients and staff alike. A happier practice is more likely to stay successful.
Read the full Eyes On Eyecare article here.