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Avoiding HR Nightmares: How to Ensure You Stay Clear of Major Staffing Issues

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:00 AM

Expert Advice, Practice Operations

Written by: Elizabeth Monroe

Elizabeth Monroe
Senior consultant

Practices that focus on developing staff, well-informed management, and a positive practice culture can minimize HR issues. However, even the best, most well-managed practices likely will experience HR issues at some point.

Below are several actions you can take to protect your practice.

Develop a policy and procedure manual. Every practice should have an employee policy and procedure manual, which outlines expectations for the practice and its employees. The manual should be reviewed every one to two years to make sure it contains the most up-to-date information.

Educate your administrative and management staff on HR regulatory issues. In recent years, many employment laws have changed. Practices must remain compliant with wage and hour laws, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and more. Practices can provide annual HR training to managers through resources such as the American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) and American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE), the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), or regional training offered by a reputable company.

Retain counsel that specializes in labor issues for your state. While the department of labor provides guidelines for federal employee law, many states have adopted more stringent laws. In cases where the state law and federal law differ, the law that best benefits the employee will prevail. Practices need to have counsel review their policy and procedure manual every time there is a labor law update.

Document, document, document. Too often when employee issues arise, the practice has no documentation to support its position. Just as a physician must make detailed patient chart notes, practices must keep adequate employee records. Even if an employee is verbally counseled, a brief paragraph outlining what was discussed should be placed in the employee file.

Hold employees accountable, even legacy employees. When your practice updates its policies and procedures, it is important for all team members to be held accountable to new practice standards. For example, if the practice decides to enforce a new policy about coming to work on time, physicians have to be willing to enforce the policy among all staff.

Develop a clear path for grievances. To help employees express issues before HR nightmares develop, create a clear path for employees to provide feedback. Practices may develop an open-door policy, conduct employee satisfaction surveys, or outline steps an employee can take to address a concern. All staff members should be made aware of these options.

Don't try to ignore the problem. Though HR issues can be painful to address, they only get bigger when they are ignored. The worst course of action is to not take any action at all.

Practices must have effective policies and procedures in place to avoid potential HR pitfalls. By making sure your practice HR components are up to date and compliant, your team will know what steps to follow when issues arise.

YOUR TURN: What other suggestions do you have to avoid HR nightmares? Please leave your response in the comment section below. Thank you.

If you have a specific question regarding this topic, contact Elizabeth Monroe at

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