Rightsizing Your Physician Practice's Staff

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , April 19, 2010

Unexpected stability

The recession and overall economic malaise that have gripped the nation for more than two years have had at least one unexpected upside for office administrators: Staff is staying put.

"We have had no resignations for four or five months at this point, which is a long time for us. It's not like we are a place where people bail from, but people get relocated or they have babies or whatever, so it is kind of unusual to go that long," Daiker says.

When a job opening is posted, NorthwestEye gets flooded with applicants who aren't necessarily qualified. "That makes it hard because you have to sort through a lot of stuff to find qualified applicants," says Daiker. "It used to be recruitment was expensive when the labor market was tight. Now, it doesn't cost much to recruit, but it is the training, the orientation, that takes a lot. Even if they come from another eye group, they don't necessarily know how to do it our way."

Although cutting back hours to maintain adequate staffing is preferable to layoffs, it can still get tricky. "We try to solicit reduced hours from employees, but you can only do that so much before people get skittish," Daiker says. "We try to be fair. It's easier for everyone to lose an hour than it is for one person to lose eight hours. Also, because we are in Minnesota, when the weather gets nicer, people are a little more open to cutting back some hours and heading outside."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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