It seems that the customer experience is less satisfying in the vast majority of businesses these days. In large part, declining customer service can be attributed to pandemic-related changes in the labor market. You’ve worked hard to build a team of dedicated individuals who provide excellent service to your patients, but today’s employees have different expectations than they did pre-COVID. Beyond salary and benefits, they’re looking for opportunities for advancement and flexibility as well.
Training Benefits the Whole Team
A well-planned training program can address these employee desires in a logical and mutually beneficial way. Although seasoned employees may have relatively less opportunity to directly benefit from training, retaining current co-workers and successfully onboarding new employees reduces burnout for your valuable long-term employees and results in a better experience for both staff and patients. Successful business owners can no longer afford to train new hires by simply having them observe and mimic other staff. Instead, spend some time this year redesigning your employee training program.
Employee Development Ideas
- Update your employee manual to make sure that each important task could be correctly accomplished by an inexperienced employee simply by following steps or a flow chart. When something goes wrong in the practice, review the manual with those involved and point out the transgression(s) from the manual. Update the manual as necessary if situations arise that require further refinement.
- Develop a cross-training program. This strengthens the team by providing additional flexibility during busy times and staff shortages. It also provides an opportunity for seasoned staff to learn something new if cross-training has not been done in the past or needs to be refreshed.
- Encourage staff to complete courses from the AOA Paraoptometric Certification Program and the American Board of Opticianry.
- Work with vendors to provide education for your staff
- Include staff when attending meetings that provide staff education
Use steps in your training programs and successful completion of recognized education and certification as a means to recognize achievements made by your staff. This recognition can take many forms which may or may not be tied to salary and benefits. The important point is that the employee is advancing in his or her knowledge and self esteem. Also consider building in some flexibility by allowing some education toward advancement to be work-from-home.
Remember that your patients spend more time with your staff than they do with you. There are strong correlations among staff attitude, staff competence, patient/customer experience and profitability. Implementing a thoughtfully-designed training program with recognized levels of achievement is an important aspect in creating the work environment that keeps today’s employees happy and your practice thriving.