What’s Your “Man Down” Plan?

by | May 6, 2021 | Team Building, Training

Similar to penalty play in lacrosse or hockey, you need to have a strategy for dealing with being a team member short. Your staff members get sick from time to time.  They also need and deserve time off for vacation. However the absence of even a single employee has a significant impact in most eye care practices. 

Advance planning for the inevitable can make the best of an otherwise bad situation. Here’s how you build a game plan to handle it. For each of your employees, make a list of the problems that would likely result from their absence and devise a mitigation plan. When planning, place a high priority on maintaining the quality of the patient experience.  Having a strategy to handle staff absences not only allows you to deliver consistent care, but also eases the burden on the rest of the staff.  

Being Prepared for Being Short-Staffed

  • Cross-train staff so there are at least 2 staff members who can perform each of your most critical functions – particularly the functions without which the patient experience would suffer. 
  • Consider the effect being short-staffed has on those who are covering for the absent employee and decide what functions could be temporarily eliminated or delayed.  
  • Make sure your procedural manual is up to date for the functions each employee performs so others who assume those functions have guidance. 
  • Depending on the size of your staff, allow only one employee (or one employee in each department) to take vacation at a time.  Make vacation requests available each year on a first-come, first-served basis beginning the first business day of each year. In the event of conflicts, alternate the employee that is granted the desired vacation each year. Hang a full-year calendar in the staff break room and keep it updated with approved vacations so all staff members are informed.    

Pro Tip: Encourage staff members to consider taking vacation at the same time that one of the providers will be away from the office. Often staff in a small practice are willing to oblige during this time when less staff is needed. This is also a time when it may be appropriate for more than one staff member to be on vacation without affecting the business.

By Ron Meeker, OD

Thoughtful, intentional, methodical approach to achieving your most important goals and dreams. That's the Meeker way.


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