The Importance of Human Resources in Your Practice

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By Erin Cammarata

Anyone who has read my columns has heard me refer to the adolescent years of a business. As our practices grow, our business model must change to keep pace with that growth. When it comes to HR, that change often comes too late. How do you know when it's time to invest in an employee to manage HR issues?

  • Have you ever created a policy for the office, put it on paper, and never implemented or enforced it? 
  • Are you aware of the new overtime rules for 2020?
  • Are annual reviews consistently conducted for your employees?
  • Is hiring, onboarding, and firing employees done in a professional and effective manner?
  • When you meet with an employee, is it documented properly to protect you in the future?
  • Are employees' payroll hours tracked?
  • Would one of your employees ever say, "Why complain, they'll never do anything about it."?

If you are uncertain about the answer to any of these questions, it might be time to assess your HR needs.

The questions I outlined might not seem vital as you go through the day-to-day in your practice, but they become so when you have a displeased employee who feels he or she was not treated fairly. 

The risk of not having HR protocols could be comparable to delivering and billing a microprocessor prosthesis without obtaining a detailed written physician's note or a proof of delivery. The reality is most practices wait too long to hire someone or retain the services of an outsourced HR agency.

If you are not quite ready to press the help button yet, here are some tips to help cover your bases:

Understand the laws. Understanding the federal and state laws around employment is the first place to start. The HR department in our practice found a great tool from Lunt Group. It provides a useful free employment law handbook that summarizes federal and state employment laws. To access it, visit www.employmentlawhandbook.com.

Document meetings and issues. I cannot express enough how vital proper documentation of employee meetings and issues is. If there is an issue brought up by an employee, it must be documented. If an employee wants to change his or her hours, it should be documented. If you are having any meeting with an employee, a summary of the meeting should be documented. If you are putting the employee on a disciplinary warning, it must be documented. These are just a few samples of conversations that might be part of your day. It's important to have a standard method of documentation. Jotting the summary of the meeting down on a random piece of paper is not likely going to make it back into the employees' file. You need a method of documenting these meetings so three years later, if you need that documentation to protect yourself in a wrongful termination lawsuit, for example, it is handy. This will save you time and money.

There are many options to help with this. It can be as simple as creating an employee meeting form that simply outlines the people involved, the date of the conversation. and a summary of the conversation. In my practice we have multiple offices, departments, and managers. We utilize OneNote from Microsoft, and all performance conversations that the  manager has with an employee are logged into OneNote. This is helpful for compliance purposes as well as keeping all locations and team leads on the same page with other employees. When a new meeting is documented all members of the team are made aware.

Ensure you have policies and handbooks in place. An employee handbook should outline your code of conduct and should be a tool for your employees to use when they have a question like, "Do I have to wear shoes to work?" 

An outdated handbook or the absence of a handbook puts you at risk. How can you discipline someone for a policy that does not exist?

Some HR programs we have used in the past to help with policy manuals, reviews, and employee time tracking are www.hrweb.com and www.bamboohr.com

The importance of a plan in place and HR management is something you need to take care of now. Take the time to review your practice and outline what you need.

Erin Cammarata is president and owner of CBS Medical Billing and Consulting. She can be contacted at erin@cbsmedicalbilling.com.