Practice Staff: The More You Give, the More You Get

As a small practice, your competition for good employees is stiff, and your need for highly productive, stable staff is great. To succeed on both fronts comes down to an important factor: You have to offer a salary and benefits that are competitive in your market.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported health care occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024. That means it’s a sellers’ market: Your potential hires — and current staff members — have the luxury of being choosy about where they work.

“We see staff leaving one practice to go next door to make a quarter more an hour all the time,” said TMA Associate Vice President Heather Bettridge, who directs TMA Practice Consulting. “Without competitive salaries and benefits your practice may become a revolving door with frequent turnover.”

Moreover, she said, with quality-based payment tied to customer satisfaction scores, you need to hire staff who consistently perform at a high level, produce quality work, and go above and beyond to make sure patients are happy and well taken care of. Paying staff competitively within your market helps retain those staff.

Further, in the Physicians Practice 2017 Staff Salary Survey, 45 percent of respondents said increased staff workload and employees performing dual responsibilities is a challenge in their practice. And 87 percent said they plan to train current staff for Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act-related roles, rather than add staff to adhere to the new rules — all the more reasons for attracting and keeping highly competent staff.

What Are the Must-Have Benefits?

In the area of benefits, at a minimum you need to offer paid time off (vacation, sick leave, and holidays) and ideally some sort of medical benefit, Ms. Bettridge said. “And more and more, staff are looking for retirement plans,” she noted. “If it’s financially possible, we encourage practices to offer some sort of plan — it’s what could set you apart from the practice next door. Even the possibility of adding a retirement plan in the near future can make a difference.”

In a 2015 Medscape salary report, 79 percent of physicians offered paid time off, 65 percent paid health insurance, and 47 percent had a retirement plan with a match. Only 8 percent offered no benefits at all. Some practices also offered “gravy” benefits, such as dental and vision insurance.

What if your solo or small practice simply can’t compete with the large groups or hospital system in your city? That’s where the intangible benefits come in, Ms. Bettridge said, assets worth developing and nurturing in your practice.

“In exchange for the more affordable insurance plans and opportunities to advance to a higher salary that large practices can afford to offer, they also may saddle employees with bureaucratic red tape and long decisionmaking times, and be more rigid with rules,” she said. “Even if staff know they could make more elsewhere, if they feel appreciated, aren’t under extreme stress, have a trusting work environment, and enjoy the company of their peers and physician — they’ll stay!”

TMA Can Help

Attracting and retaining staff start with a sound screening and interviewing process, followed by training, feedback, and clear communication. Visit www.texmed.org/HRHelp for all the ways TMA can support you as the leader of your team, including TMA Practice Consulting’s human resources consulting services and TMA’s customizable policies and procedures manual.

Published May 25, 2017

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Last Updated On

May 26, 2017

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