Staff satisfaction strengthens your practice

Employees are volunteers and can choose to leave when they see fit

Howard Larkin

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ed Toland (left) of the Wellington Eye Clinic with Kris Morrill (right) of Medeuronet

Ed Toland (left) of the Wellington Eye Clinic with Kris Morrill (right) of Medeuronet


Your employees may well be your practice’s most valuable asset. They’re usually your patients’ first and last contact, and if they’re satisfied they are more likely to give good service, management consultant Kristine Morrill told the ESCRS Practice Management and Development Programme at the XXXIV Congress of the ESCRS in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Yet poor employee morale is a huge problem, said Morrill, co-founder of Strasbourg, France-based professional services firm, medeuronet. Globally, just 13% of employees said they were “engaged” in their jobs, ranging from 29% in North America to 14% in Western Europe and just 6% in East Asia, according to a 2013 Gallup survey of 225,000 workers in 142 countries. A Harvard Business Review survey of 1.2 million workers found that, in 85% of companies, employees’ morale dropped six months after hiring and declined further for years.

Of the many factors influencing employee morale, one stands out. “It comes down to bad bosses,” Morrill said, citing a Florida State University study of 700 employees. “People will put up with a boring job or driving an hour each way to work, but what they are not willing to tolerate is not getting along with or not being motivated by their boss.”

And when employees quit, it costs you plenty, Morrill noted. Between recruiting and interviewing, training and productivity lost to the learning curve and reduced team efficiency, replacing an employee costs between 20% and 200% of their annual salary – and the more skilled the worker, the higher the cost. “The more time you invest in training and developing them, the more it costs you when they walk out the door,” said Morrill.

As a practice leader, it’s up to you to set the path for employee engagement and satisfaction, Morrill said. Studies show that career opportunities, learning new skills and promotions play a bigger role in employee satisfaction than pay, though pay must be competitive. Creating clear advancement paths in your practice helps, as does regular training.

Also beware of morale-sapping management practices. These include micromanaging competent employees, giving contradictory work instructions, ignoring office bullies, playing favourites, frequently changing rules such as work hours without explanation  and monitoring private communications and social media use, Morrill said. If you see these in a manager – or yourself – take corrective action.

Beware of morale-sapping management practices

A rough indicator of your success in keeping employees engaged and satisfied is your employee retention rate. If you start with 20 and after three months, 16 are left, your retention rate is 80% – good but not great. “Anything below 70% and you’ve probably got a real problem, especially if they are leaving after six months or a year,” Morrill said.

While employees who are no longer challenged or have checked out without leaving should be identified and addressed, it’s important to do your part as a manager to avoid driving off good workers, Morrill said. “All employees are volunteers and they can choose to leave when they see fit. Respecting that and respecting that they contribute to the growth and success of your practice is part of creating job satisfaction.”

Kris Morrill:

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