The benefits of an employee departure
By Anthony Lombardi
When an employee leaves your clinic do not get too disappointed – they have just given you a chance to do things at a lower cost. When someone gives you two weeks notice, it is the most inexpensive way for you to break ties with that employee.
There’s no need to pay them severance, consult and pay your labour lawyer, or spend even more time and money in labour law court. Moreover, it gives you liberty to think outside the box to replace their contributions to your clinic.
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Minimum wage/maximum save
If an employee leaves your clinic between now and Jan. 1, 2019, do not stand in the way. Recently, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal Ontario Government approved a minimum wage increase from $11.40 to $15 per hour by 2019. Instead of getting upset, this is motivating clinic owners to get smarter. Look, on the surface this will be a dramatic increase in your clinic expenses – but only if you allow it. Use times like these to re-evaluate every day from morning until evening. Identify your busy times and your slow times, and then look for more reasonable options to take care of the front desk when times are slow. You will find at least three to five hours per week where there is a downturn. Consider replacing some employee hours with a college co-op student volunteer, an elderly volunteer, or a student looking to fulfill community service. In these cases, the volunteers go unpaid but clinics may choose to provide treatment in exchange as a token of appreciation.
Dos and don’ts
Remember that everyone in your office is expendable and everyone is replaceable. I continually collect and monitor information about outside therapists and chiropractors who are interested in joining my team. I also keep a short-list of potential front-end staff should a vacancy occur. This way when I’m looking for someone, the void is typically filled within 24 hours.
When a therapist or employee announces they are leaving, try not to be upset about it – at least not in front of your clinic team members. Do make sure to take the high road and get them a card, a cake and a small gift. After all, as inconvenient as their departure may be, remember they are giving you the gift of realizing that you can do it better without them.
Once they give you two weeks notice don’t give them the cold shoulder for the remainder of their time with you. If there is any tension or if you foresee that they have been plotting their departure and plan to disrupt your practice in the process, then with the guidance of a labour lawyer, pay them out and ask them to leave immediately.
When I hire someone new, the first few weeks are spent in continuous conversations about the three Cs: confidentiality, consumer service and culture.
Confidentiality. As the health information custodian you must preserve, protect and store the patient information of all clinic patients. Explaining to your staff ways you can avoid and deter information breaches will make everyone more comfortable.
Customer service. With every new employee I stress the importance of customer service. The frontline must collect money and book appointments but they must also send out reminder text messages and check the email and smartphone hourly for appointment requests. Every opportunity to service potential clients cannot be squandered.
Culture club. Over the last 15 years, my clinic has developed and cultivated a culture club atmosphere. Employees and patients treat the clinic like their own. They keep the place neat and clean, they always pick up garbage when they see it – and they choose our services regardless of where they live.
As business owners we have to stand up for ourselves. This could not be more true in light of the recent minimum wage increase in Ontario, which will raise the minimum wage by 32 per cent in the next 18 months.
Here is my opinion on this. Small business practice owners are no dummies. It will motivate business owners to think like this: You want a government mandated raise? Now you make $14 per hour at 40 hours per week = $560. The new wage is $15 per hour, so you would expect to make $600 per week, right? Only I have the option of picking from a long list of college co-op students who I can get to work for free three to five hours per week for an entire semester. They can do the filing and callbacks. So now, I only need you for 37 hours per week (37 x $15 = $555). What are you going to do now? Did the economists consider that in their so-called research?
Business owners need to be strong enough to say “no way” to the government and those who want to rock the proverbial boat of small businesses. We need to protect our interests, politely write our elected officials and tell them we will not be pushed around.
Dr. Anthony Lombardi is consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic in Hamilton, Ont. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and conducts practice-building workshops to health professionals. Visit exstore.ca for information.