Staff Management

Implement Objective Performance Assessments with Online Tools

By Stuart J. Thomas, OD,
and Ellen Byrum-Goad, LDO

Staff compensation needs to be results-based, not time-based or experience-based. Online tools provide a framework for this new approach–and they engage the employee in their own performance evaluation and compensation process.

We all strive to better manage our staff and improve service for our patients. Online tools are available that aid this quest. My practice has implemented VHR-Advisor, an online program makes it easy to clarify staff roles and encourageaccountability by directly associating compensation to performance.

VHR-Advisor FAQ: How Does it Work?

Rebecca Johnson, manager of the VHR-Advisor tool, who works with the tool’s creator, Jay Binkowitz, answers the following ROB Editor questions.

How long does it take to set up the tool for use?
Approximately 15 minutes per staff member.

The core function of this tool?
VHR-Advisor is not a training or coaching tool. It is used as a method of motivating the employee to greater production by tying compensation directly to quantifiable measures.

What kind of employee pay structure works with this tool?
Pay can be raise, bonus or both. Raises are determined by the aggregate quarterly ratings over a one-year time period. Bonuses are available only when the practice meets a specific financial goal. There is a pre-determined amount of money that is placed into a bonus pool and divided among the staff based on ratings. Those who get higher ratings have contributed more to the overall financial success, and therefore, get a larger portion of the bonus.

How do you shift staff from a time-based or experience-based pay system to the new approach?
Once VHR-Advisor is set up, I suggest holding a staff meeting to explain how performance-based compensation will be implemented and pass out the individual goal sheets that are created in VHR-Advisor. It has been my experience that the staff embraces this change as they see it as a fair reward system.

How do you set up and implement VHR-Advisor?
It is quite easy to set up VHR-Advisor as the software is very user friendly. You would simply add each employee into the database and then select from our library of 400 key responsibilities and add the measurement for each one. VHR-Advisor is also fully customizable in the case that you wish to add a responsibility that is not listed in the library.

>>Click HERE to view an ROB video in which Rebecca Johnson describes how to setstaff performance and accountability goals, and manage like a professional.>

The program provides templates for creating and communicating a series of “performance-based” employee assessments. Among other functions, employees are able to rate their own performance creating a performance conversation-starter with office managers and practice leaders. ECPs can use VHR-Advisor to customize their own evaluation process and improve employee dynamics and productivity with clearly defined expectation levels for all.

Address Top Management Challenge

The top management problem is that people expect to get raises just because they have been approved and passed their 90-day probationary period or they have reached their one-year anniversary. Staff thinks that length of time equates to more payroll. Business growth (specifically, their part making it grow) equates to more payroll. VHR takes emotional decision making out of your hands and puts performance exactly where it should be–in the hands of the employee and their performance level.

Minimal Expense

Online management tools don’t have to be expensive. For instance, here is how the cost of VHR-Advisor adds up for us:

One-Time Set up and Training Fee: $395

1-10 employees – $29.95/month

11 – 20 employees $39.95/month

21+ Locations employees = $49.95/month

Stop Unearned Salary Creep

Over time, employee salaries exceed the employee’sworth in productivity. An underperforming staff can destroy a business to the point an owner would have to close his/her doors. The doctor has very little time for staff management issues. They need to be in the back spinning and grinning–smiling and dialing and recommending product based on the patient’s needs. They do not have time to know who does what, who is answering the phone properly and who is not. They need to be able to see the productivity in profits to determine who gets what raise. Automating the performance evaluation process with an online tool eases the burden of the doctor or even office manager in tracking performance by offering an objective assessment.

Value of Employees Rating Their Own Performance

All of our staff members access VHR-Advisor through private usernames and passwords. They are able to do their own self-assessment to determine if they are working at , below or above expectations.

The value in having employees rate themselves is the perfect way for (1) them to clearly understand what is expected of them and (2) what their part is in the growth of the practice. An employee must have clear self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses so that they know in what areas they need to seek additional training, beef up their skills and/or mimic the actions and behaviors of mentors who can train them to higher productivity.

From my point of view, every person is crucial to the success of the practice. Answering the phone–if you answer it and cannot convert a “shopper” to a patient then you need formal telephone training. If you are a tech and do not understand why a patient who cites glare issues on their patient history forms needs a polarized lens demonstration (first step to getting that sunglass sale)–then you need better training. Optical sales should equate to about 60 percent of an office’s revenue. If second-pair sales are low then staff needs to better understand practice expectations and then they need to see that they are performing above or below expectations. We plan to review employee productivity on a quarterly basis with VHR-Advisor.

Results-Based Compensation

VHR-Advisor brings results-based compensation to your fingertips. This module will motivate your staff, or easily identify the ones who simply need to be in another profession. You will be able to get the best performance possible, increase productivity, boost morale and make your business the best it can be. VHR-Advisor allows you to identify key responsibilities of each staff member, actively involve your employees in the goals that ODs set forth for their practice and enable rewards based on the measurable level of contribution made by the employee.

I can’t say enough how this takes emotion and favoritism out of awful employee reviews and puts the responsibility right back onto the employee making sure they produce, as well. It also gives them business knowledge on their role in making the company grow.

Related ROB Articles

Executive Review: Assess and Improve Practice Performance

Staff Performance Booster Shots: Continuously Evaluate Progress and Review Annually

Your Top Staffing Mistakes–and How to Fix or Avoid Them

Stuart J. Thomas, OD, is the owner of Thomas Eye Center in Athens, Ga. Ellen Byrum-Goad, LDO, is practice manager. To contact:

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