Workplace Culture

5 ways to help improve private practice workplace culture

Follow these employee management steps to help create a positive office environment, potentially leading to better performance and patient satisfaction.

Published: November 12, 2019

The impact of employee morale

Employee engagement ties directly to patient satisfaction: in one survey, 85% of engaged employees showed a genuinely caring attitude with patients, while only 38% of disengaged employees did.

Disengaged employees also create high rates of staff turnover, resulting in unnecessary expenses. To replace even an entry-level employee at a medical practice may cost you 25% of the employee’s salary; management-level vacancies can require five times the yearly salary to fill. Meanwhile, if patients see new faces at each visit, they may not form the kind of relationships that can lead to better retention — essential for managing a private practice successfully.

To help improve workplace culture and increase patient satisfaction and profitability, consider these five key steps to optimal employee management:

1) Perfect your mission statement

When employees understand, and feel connected to, your mission, they may be more eager to stay. That means not only outlining your vision for your practice — your core values, definitions of success for clients and for staff, and goals — but also communicating it to employees.

Translate this mission into actionable best practices that will advance it every day. For example, set a standard for others to follow by maintaining a positive attitude at work, avoiding office gossip, and treating patients with respect.

2) Recognize and reward achievements

A formal employee appreciation program is the most popular staff retention technique: some 77% of medical practices have one, and those practices reported lower employee turnover rates in almost every role.

Consider rewarding employees — especially top performers — with perks or awards such as gift cards, bonuses, or extra vacation days.

Cultivate a habit of complimenting positive behaviors and results. One simple way of integrating this habit into daily operation is by conducting a weekly “thank you audit.” The audit can begin with the practice owner asking staff members whether they completed certain tasks throughout the week. In this way you can recognize all that your team has accomplished, and follow it with a comment such as, “Thank you for making sure all of the patients have confirmed their appointments.”

This can be beneficial for your employee relationships in several ways: people feel reinforced for doing well, and it makes clear to staff that you are aware of their performance and that it matters.

3) Address mistakes in the right way

When errors happen, it’s important to correct them promptly, but also to approach the mistake as an opportunity to learn, rather than to place blame or cause embarrassment.

Try asking questions such as, 'How could things have been done differently to reach a better outcome?' If a workplace environment lets employees feel comfortable discussing mistakes without fear of punishment, then the mistakes likely won’t be repeated and lessons can be learned.

4) Communicate regularly

Consider implementing a simple routine such as a morning team huddle to discuss the day's tasks and address the previous day's pain points. One survey of veterinary clinic employees revealed 23% of respondents had left a job to escape office conflict.

Frequent communication may help mitigate these issues, potentially reducing turnover rates.

5) Encourage professional development

Lack of opportunities for advancement is another common reason high-performing employees leave their positions. Take time to ask employees about their professional goals; help them identify resources for coaching and continuing education. Support such as this may motivate them to focus on their performance while giving them something to work toward. This not only fosters employee engagement, but may also increase the overall skill and knowledge level of your staff, which benefits your entire practice.

The success of a practice is heavily tied to the satisfaction of employees and satisfaction in turn affects patient care quality. Small efforts such as these carry little to no cost and may help create the type of work environment employees look forward to contributing to.

With your staff working efficiently you have time to turn your focus to your patients; learn how you can retain the existing patient base of your business and attract new patients.