Depending on where your medical practice is based, finding great employees may be difficult but it may be difficult for two different reasons. One, it could be difficult because the pool of smart employees may be small or two, there’s a huge pool of smart employees but the competition to hire one is stiff.
For example, in San Francisco, there’s a plethora of smart people. So smart that they don’t have to look up the definition of plethora. So while we don’t have the first problem of finding a smart employee in a large pool of smart employees, you’re competing with hospitals and multinational tech companies for a great employee that might not want to work for your small medical practice.
Benefits for Your Employees
I’ve been lucky to find some great employees and aside from compensation, you’ve got to get creative in ways to retain them. So let’s talk benefits. People in HR (Human Resources) tend to call benefits by a hip abbreviated name, “benes” (pronounced benees). I’m not exactly sure why, but this abbreviation aggravates the you-know-what out of me. But I digress.
It might sound crazy but even a solo practicing plastic surgeon like myself has to offer some pretty basic, but expensive benefits to full-time employees. Parking. Health insurance. Entry into a retirement plan like a 401K after at least a year of working in good standing. Aside from a competitive hourly rate, these benefits are just the start. Most practices in San Francisco offer these benefits so you’re already starting at a pretty high bar. But there has to be more.
Employees like an annual holiday party or dinner. Check. Maybe pay for lunch on particularly busy days. Check. Give them flexible hours if they want to come in early and leave early or come in late and leave late. Check. The point here is that in addition to general benefits, you want to cater the benefits to that particular employee’s needs. For example, what if one of your part-time employees is so good at answering the phone that you want her there more often. But she has another part-time job at a gym that affords her free membership. Well, if you want her answering the phone on more days, you have to help defray the costs of that gym membership so she doesn’t feel the need to work there just for that benefit.
Maybe another employee likes outdoor music festivals. Buying her a ticket would probably go a long way in making sure she knows you appreciate her hard work. Now this is where it gets really creative in terms of benefits to keep your employees happy…
Let’s say one of your employees doesn’t have a car in the city, which can be typical in San Francisco. Let’s say on mornings when you have surgery starting in your office-based operating room at 7am, they have to catch the bus before dawn. And maybe they also have to stay late on the rare occasion. From a safety perspective, you want to ensure more “robust” transportation.
Ordering them a taxi ride to and from work isn’t really practical. Are you going to give them cash or a business credit card to pay for a cab ride every time they need it? If you give them a business credit card, that’s another card in circulation with increased risk of identity theft. Well, in this wonderful age of technology, there’s an answer for this conundrum.
Enter Lyft, the ride sharing company that allows you to hail a cab or car whenever and wherever. What’s even better is what Lyft can do for your business. I recently set up a Lyft business account for my practice, Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, and check out how seamless this is. They “invite” your employee or employees to join your business account on Lyft that has a monthly dollar value of credits. Each time they order a ride with Lyft, the ride is automatically deducted from the credit you, the employer, have placed on the account. But the app is smart enough to put geo-fences around your location. This means that they can only use the business account when they’re either being picked up or dropped off from my practice. And it can only be used Monday through Friday. This wouldn’t have worked in the old days of the typical taxi.
These benefits may cost extra up front but if you can retain awesome employees for longer, you more than make up for the cost of not conducting interviews and lost productivity. The bottom line is try and listen to what your employees want and attempt to cater to that particular need. It may not be as expensive as you think.