This will not come as a surprise to any of you. Every office we work with has office hours. You have the hours posted on your website, your front door, in your employee handbook, on business cards, and possibly many other places as well. You have your employees’ hours to be worked on a schedule. The schedule is written to be efficient for your practice. It is also created and produced to make certain you have the right people in the office at the times you need them to deliver amazing service to each and every one of your patients. Whether it is the first appointment in the door in the morning, the person coming in to pick up their new eyeglasses, an adjustment, a repair, or the last appointment of the day, your patients expect the best service on every visit they make to your office.
Remember you have both external customers as well as your internal customers. I have just outlined what you do to care for your external customer. But your internal customer, the people you met, interviewed, and discussed an agreement for them to provide a service to your practice and your patients in return for a product, their paycheck. They agreed in the interview to work with you and your fellow team members to deliver excellent patient care throughout the entire patient production cycle and their visits when necessary. The internal customer made the commitment to work collaboratively with others employed to deliver this patient care during their scheduled hours and when necessary, additional hours.
Over the past few years, because of the pandemic, we had to become extremely relaxed and flexible to accommodate people when not feeling well. If a person they cared for, a relative, their child, or other, wasn’t feeling well, the person needed to be out of the office for an extended period of time to care for themselves and those around them. This left offices short-staffed, and in some cases, they had to close their doors. We saw high school students, mid-way through their senior years, told to stay home. Proms were canceled, their composite photos were not taken to display in their high schools, graduations canceled or held virtually, and classes were recorded and accessed when it was convenient for them to watch and attend. College students saw much of the same as high school students. Schedules became optional. Study and take your tests when you want but have it done by a specific date and time for your grade. For three years this went on. My daughter who is a junior in college did not have her first in-person college class until the Spring semester of 2022. From midway through her senior year of high school, to the early start of her junior year in college, classes were online and recorded. Imagine those who were in their junior years of college and finished their education in 2022.
These are your future internal customers, your future team members. It is imperative to set the tone and expectations with your current team and future employees and make certain they understand what and who you and your practice is about. You need to tell the story about what made your practice successful. You need to reignite the fire and culture you had in your practice pre-pandemic. Share the history of your practice, where it was and where it is today! Share with your team the vision you have for your future. Remind them they are the most important asset in the practice. Without them, your practice would not and will not be the success for your patients as it is. Share with them the fact you need them in the office at their scheduled hours. They need to respect the vacation and PTO policies you have in your practice and not to exceed the planned days off. We need them in the office to support one another, to care for the patients scheduled, coming to pick up products, adjustments, repairs, or just stopping in to learn about your services to make your practice successful.
It is time to set the tone for the new year, 2023 is here. Now is the time to review all that has been said in this article. Set the tone for 2023. Help them to see you want them here, but we need them here for the hours per year they agreed to work. You don’t want to say these words in 2023, “They’re a great employee when they’re here.”
It is time to draw the line in the concrete. As of January 1, 2023. You must follow through and be accountable to your employee handbook attendance policy. Everyone has been very lenient and patient with each employee through the pandemic. We work in a profession where flex schedules are NOT effective for our patients or fellow team members. They need to be here when scheduled and you must work that schedule to maintain full-time status and retain benefits. Your team is here to care for patients and one another on your team and you cannot continue to have people out of the office for days beyond what we have planned in the employee handbook. It puts unnecessary stress and work on your team members when people go beyond the days allowed. It is not about the paid or unpaid days off, it is about managing and caring for each one of you to make certain your workload is where it should be. You do not want to burn out or overwork your employees, so enforce the policies. Set a standard. If a person is tardy X times, they are ineligible for a bonus. Coach, counsel, and guide them to improve. Set the standard you want in 2023 now while we are in 2022. Help them to know now the line is drawn and you are going to expect the best from your team. Reteach those that had to be educated during challenging times. Make 2023 the turning point we all want to see. Know not every employee will make the change. The good news is, we are seeing more and more offices collecting more quality resumes over the past 2 months. There are people that want to work. And why not work in what I see as the greatest industry out there. Combine that with your practice and who would not be prouder than to say they work with you and all on your team?
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Rick Guinotte, CEO and Co-Founder