Retaining employees has been a challenge during this pandemic. Most offices are not as busy as they were before the pandemic, in fact, some states actually limit the number of patients that can gather in an office at one time. Although everyone wants to retain good employees, there has to be some consideration as to the financial burden that places on a business that may be experiencing reduced revenue.
A seasoned business person once told me that if I was taking money out of my own pocket to pay an employee then I needed to reconsider if the employee was really necessary. This is a tough stand to take but it’s true. If business shrinks, then the owner has to re evaluate whether the business can afford the current number of employees.
The business metric by which I operate my practice is that payroll should be no more than 30% of total gross revenue and that payroll includes the salary of the owner. Generally, payroll expenses that fall between 15 to 30 percent of gross revenue is the safe zone for most types of businesses. If your payroll totals more than 30% of the gross revenue of the practice, then it may be time to eliminate a position or reduce hours of some or all staff.
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Twenty six states currently have a Work Share program in place. With the Work Share program, a worker receives a reduced salary from the employer, but is also given a percentage of their state unemployment benefits. The reduction in work hours must result in an equivalent reduction in wages.
Every employee should be contributing to the value of a business and each must have a formal, specific job description with SMART goals and explicit expectations for performance. For instance, a patient care coordinator may have the goal of filling 95% of openings in the schedule for a stated professional or perhaps it is converting 99% of prospect calls to appointments but job descriptions need to be specific with measurable outcomes.
It’s OK to be generous, but it’s important that the employee pay is appropriate for the position. I have found the Occupational Outlook Handbook – Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/ooh/ to be helpful in determining appropriate wages but there are many sites on the web that discuss range of wage for specific jobs. The handbook gives the average wage for every occupation and can be sorted by geographical location.
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This pandemic has been stressful for everyone. Talk openly with employees about how the pandemic is affecting the business. Expectations should be communicated regularly and clearly by everyone. Plan some activities to help employees de-stress. It’s not easy working and having to wear all the PPE and to practice social distancing. A business owner may be dealing with financial issues they are facing because of the pandemic but employees have a lot to deal with too, including trying to get patients to wear masks and to wear them correctly.
The most important element of working through the pandemic with your staff is good communication. Let them know the concerns you are experiencing and encourage staff to share their concerns. Statements like, “We’ll make it through this together. We value you and the work you do,” can help to ease any concerns they may have about survival of the business and long term expectations for their position in the company.
I think many of us will look back on 2020 with lots of emotion. Let’s hope that better times are coming and, in the meantime, take steps to make certain that you are addressing staff concerns and ensuring that the business can afford to maintain their employment.