By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
August 25, 2021
If you have noticed that it’s getting harder to recruit and retain high-performing employees, it isn’t your imagination. Here is why recruitment and retention have become harder, along with an action plan to ensure you hold onto your most valuable employees.
With high unemployment and businesses, including eyecare practices, wanting to hire, you would think that it would be the perfect environment to find excellent candidates to hire. That is not what practices are experiencing.
Respondents said the thing holding the practice back from seeing more patients was lack of staff. Over time the trend line for this answer is an increasing line in the upward direction. Over time, the lack of staff is an increasing problem.
An online HR resource site XpertHR surveyed 563 U.S. employers in September 2020, and found that roughly 50 percent of responding employers expected to increase their workforce in 2021. Employers did not want to miss out on the potential recovery post-pandemic.i Eyecare practices felt the same way.
But what have we experienced? The following graph from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics for total U.S. civilian labor force participation rate tells the story.ii The trend line is strongly in the direction that fewer people who could be working are currently working. The interesting thing to us is that this trend line has been going in the same direction for the entire time (2001 to July 2021) covered by this graph:
Labor force participation and unemployment rate are not the same thing. Labor force participation is the number of people who could work who are working. The chart above shows us that the number of people who could work and are working has been decreasing since 2001. That’s not a new trend, but is a long-term trend that is getting worse over time.
Indeed, it is getting harder to hire people – and this is not going to change in the near future. The trend is in the wrong direction.
Then, once a new team member comes on board, the job is retention. Many practices are attempting to use short-term methods of keeping people such as increasing wages, increasing benefits, and even becoming more lax on internal staffing polices resulting in more tardiness, no consequences for staff not showing up to work when scheduled and other things that should not be tolerated.
A Better Approach
According to Gallop, “Managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement.”iii That means that engagement can be learned. Managers need to learn how to manage to increase employee engagement.
Put the names of each of your employees into one of these three boxes.iv
According to Gallup, 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. Your goal is to make this group in your practice as close to 100 percent as possible. Find out what motivates each person in the top group, the ENGAGED, and make sure you are providing whatever that is for them in the workplace. It probably will be different for each person.
Sixty-seven percent of the workforce is unengaged. The key to the UNENGAGED is to identify when there is a change in behavior. Look out for any of these changes:
• A team member, who used to reach out to other members of the team, now isolates.
• A team member, who used to be on top of deadlines, starts missing some.
• A team member, who used to contribute to other aspects of the team (outside of the scope of work), no longer does it.
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Identify why the change in behavior and move them back into the ENGAGED category if possible.
Three percent of the workforce is disengaged. Whose name came to your mind when you thought about this category? Who would you be happy to see leave the practice? Here are the signs to look for in a DISENGAGED team member:
• They start making mistakes (often).
• They often reschedule and/or cancel meetings with you, their manager or their peers.
• They openly resist change with a bad attitude.
• They stop following team protocol and dynamics.
These three groups should not be managed the same. You want to keep the ENGAGED. As long as the UNENGAGED are moving toward becoming ENGAGED, you want to keep them, but with not as many concessions. And for the DISENGAGED, if you cannot immediately move them toward becoming ENGAGED, then it is time for them to leave the practice.
Remember, a DISENGAGED team member is actively harming both patient care and employee morale. Your goal is to have a practice with team members that provide the best care on every patient visit. Even in hard times for recruitment, it is important to develop the best team.
i. Recruiting Is Top HR Concern in 2021 (shrm.org)
ii. Civilian labor force participation rate (bls.gov)
iii. Managers Account for 70% of Variance in Employee Engagement (gallup.com)
iv. Disengaged employees: how to regain employee engagement | Officevibe
Photo credit, top of page: Getty Images