3.13.15 Issue #679 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Spending Too Much Time on HR Duties?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

As a dentist, your goal is to diagnose dental health care options to patients, sell the benefits and produce the dentistry. The time allotted to production can often be derailed by staffing and administrative issues that you feel you just don’t have the time or desire for anymore. Outsourcing is an option, but few dentists pursue this approach due to cost and instead give a staff member the title of “Office Manager” and pass the human resources torch over. 

Taking on extra responsibility or a new title and role in the practice is a boost to the career of the dental auxiliary, but it can be a disaster if the person is not prepared for the new job responsibilities. Office Manager duties may involve understanding and interpreting financial reports from the computer software system, tracking production and collection statistics and managing production goals. Developing a financial policy for your patients and knowing how to handle patient objections and difficult situations is part of the daily routine for an Office Manager in a dental practice. Sometimes this is enough to manage without the Human Resources component added in to the equation. In large organizations, Human Resources is a separate department away from the operational systems of the business. Primarily focused on recruitment, hiring and evaluating employees, while also making sure to comply with employment and labor laws of the state, this job is not one to be hastily undertaken. Understanding the terms “protected groups” and “generational differences” in the hiring process is important to job recruitment tactics, as an example.

The hiring process has evolved from resumes and applications to adding background checks, credit checks and confirming identity of the applicant. Employment development laws vary from state to state, and there can be stiff penalties for non-compliance. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse, because as an employer you are responsible to know. 

The person responsible for HR duties should be familiar not only with state laws, but with federal laws in regards to non-discrimination by race, age, disability or gender. What constitutes harassment, sexual harassment and laws related to pregnancy leave, military leave and a host of other issues must be understood. Training in HIPAA and OSHA (federal mandates) so this person is knowledgeable enough to represent the office should there be an issue of investigation is important.

Managing areas of overtime, family leave, personal leave, absenteeism and vacation time can derail an office if it does not have a clearly written Employee Policy Manual. The HR person will be involved in creating written job descriptions for each employee, plus being involved in performance reviews and also with the dreaded employee notice given to those with unacceptable behavior in the office. 

Many dental offices suffer from the “revolving door” where the average dental employee spends under three years at the job. There are several reasons for this, but at the top of the list is the fact that the job they are hired to do is not the job they thought they were getting. One woman told a story of being hired as an Office Manager only to find out she was expected to seat patients, break down rooms and put instruments in the sterilizer. She was excellent at business skills but disliked going into the clinical area, particularly to scrub and pack instruments. When she voiced an objection she was labeled as “not a team player” and was later dismissed from the practice. She filed for unemployment and received it. Hindsight would say if she had a detailed job description presented to her during the hiring process, she would have eliminated herself and the practice would not have wasted their time training her and introducing her to the patients. 

Using an outside payroll company can save more than it costs, because this is an area where there are often mistakes in calculations. Outsourcing the prescreening of applicants to a staffing company that specializes in dental personnel is a good option if you communicate not only the job title but a detailed job description and personality profile of the person you are looking for. The staffing company can check licensing, references and background for you. A properly screened applicant can save a lot of time in your busy day.

Need help in establishing a good Human Resource policy? Call McKenzie Management today for help in all areas of hiring and management of your practice.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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