When you think about your top goals for your practice this year, are any of them HR-related? They should be! The 5 points on our HR to do list will help you make your practice safer and stronger this year.
Revisit job descriptions
Well-made job descriptions are powerful: They help protect you legally and establish a strong management relationship. Check that each employee’s job description properly addresses the requirements of the position, any physical requirements, their pay classification, at-will status, and the ‘soft’ skills we call success factors. Here’s a link to a properly-written Hygienist Job Description.
Ask your 5-year question about every employee
Look at your team and ask yourself, “When I think about where I want our practice to be next week, 6 months, or 5 years from now, would I hire everyone again in order to get there?” If not, identify who is not the best fit. More training, resets, and all kinds of other options are available to the modern manager. In the end, you have to decide what is right for the practice and for you as a leader.
Audit your pay practices
Dental offices are notorious for several common types of employee pay errors, and even experienced doctors don’t always take the intricacies of employment laws into account. Self-audit for the following:
- Employees misclassified as independent contractors. This happens all the time, especially with dental hygienists.
- Misclassified exempt / non-exempt employees. Let me put it this way: having to pay years of back overtime pay for an employee you thought was “exempt” is PAINFUL. Better to get it right the first time.
- How you pay employees for travel and training time. In a recent law CE course, we heard a Department of Labor representative say, “Dental offices are among worst offenders, and we look at travel and training policies and pay first if we get a complaint.”
More than 90% of doctors whose handbooks I see are making mistakes in at least one of these areas. Believe me, correcting your own errors today is cheaper and easier than going to court or facing fines later.
Great HR isn’t just about your policies – it’s also how you manage. Turning some attention inward will make you a stronger and savvier manager this year.
- Read 1 book that might make your job easier. I’m reading Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, by Liz Wiseman, and learning that the way we manage can drive engagement and unleash phenomenal problem-solving abilities in every employee.
- Schedule at least 1 CE or training course on HR. There are tons of learning opportunities out there, and you don’t yet know how much you don’t know. Stay informed!
- Become a cheerleader. I don’t mean the annoyingly perky kind, but the kind who keeps energy and positivity high and helps everyone focus on the game you are playing. Focused teams get along better and play the game better. And positive people are better at seeing opportunities that others miss out on.
Update your employee handbook and check for “red flags”
Your employee handbook can be your best friend OR your worst enemy, and it all depends on how current it is and the policies you include.
If your employee handbook hasn’t been updated in the last year (or in the last 6 months for California employers!), it needs to be thoroughly checked for old or out-of-compliance policies it might contain. In each state, there have been dozens of Federal and State employment law changes, and the defense “I didn’t know a law changed,” doesn’t go over well if the DOL comes knocking.
Also, check for these “red flag” policies. All are either outright illegal, or are dangerous because they are not legally enforceable.
- Discussion of salaries and wages is discouraged or forbidden.
- The practice will determine if continuing education/training is mandatory or not. If it is mandatory, then the employer will pay for it if it falls on a regular work day. If voluntary, no salary or wages will be paid.
- All company matters are confidential. Any employee who violates this policy is subject to termination.
- Employees may not post negative comments about fellow employees, the practice, or the owners on Facebook or other social media website.
Any unapproved overtime will not be paid.
Anything sound familiar? If you recognize any of these, or if you know your handbook wasn’t updated last year, you should have it reviewed and corrected by a qualified HR or employment law expert right away.
This is THE MOST important HR step you can take this New Year. And it’s easy-we do all the hard work for you, and we’ll even review your current employee policies at no charge if you want to make sure they really need an update. Just email email@example.com, or call 866-414-6056.
Cheers to a successful year!