How to Keep Your Optometry Staff Engaged and Productive
Good vision is vital. So are the people who help maintain it.
But providing such assistance can be challenging. A 2022 Women In Optometry poll found that 53% of optometry professionals reported declines in their staff members’ energy and enthusiasm. Additionally, a third of the respondents said they’ve experienced lower staffing levels since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To motivate and keep employees, optometry professionals should consider taking a few steps.
Eye care is more than consulting with a doctor. Patients often interact with staff members more than doctors, but doctors typically receive more attention for their efforts.
Recognizing employees is key. Eye care practices could display photographs of their employees in a prominent area, such as by the reception desk. The pictures could help show patients the teamwork it takes to keep a practice running smoothly.
Speaking of teams, meetings don’t necessarily have to be a dreaded aspect of working in health care or other fields.
Instead, they can serve as touchstones, areas where doctors and staff members can address problems and accomplishments. The gatherings could encourage coworkers to bounce ideas off each other and challenge them to develop additional solutions.
Training staff members
Gathering in groups can also be an efficient way to help many employees at once, such as conducting clinical staff training for EHR systems.
Employees who have similar jobs can receive the same type of training at the same time, saving time and energy. In addition, employees might have similar questions and concerns, so group EHR training or other tutorials could help determine if a particular system will work for the practice or if it will need refining or replacing.
Listening to employees
In fact, listening to comments and concerns could help a practice find its best optometry EHR system–or do anything else, for that matter.
The best EHR for optometry for one practice might not be the best for another. Staff members can use their training sessions and meetings to discuss which parts of their systems work and which need improvements. This input could help staff members feel heard and help them be more productive in their jobs.
Treating employees like adults
Hearing and recognizing employees means treating them like the competent adults that they are.
Receiving a coffee mug or another trinket for a job well-done can be insulting, not motivating. Instead, workplaces might want to take time during meetings to acknowledge workers’ achievements, thank their employees, or post a few words of praise on their office bulletin boards. This communication lets employees know that their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.
Addressing problems promptly
Good communication is also the key to healthy professional relationships. As difficult as it can be, addressing problems when they arise can bolster these relationships and keep the overall work environment positive.
On the other hand, allowing problems to fester could mean that a workplace isn’t listening to its employees. The more entrenched problems become, the harder they could become to fix.
Asking for outside help
Fixing such problems may require some outside assistance.
Technical problems might need help from IT professionals or people with EHR experience. For interpersonal issues, practices might want to consider asking professionals to talk and work with their employees either in person or through employee assistance programs (EAPs). These measures acknowledge problems and demonstrate that workplaces want to help their employees address them.
Providing different forms of assistance
Such assistance gives eye care employees the tools they need to do their job well.
They’ll also appreciate other types of assistance. Up-to-date computers and other electronics, current medical equipment, adequate supplies, and a clean, safe environment all show employees that they and their needs matter.
Gathering information from employees and patients
Providing other forms of assistance can help employees help others. By gathering input, eye care practices can determine the best patient engagement tools.
Input could come from various sources. Practices could reach out to patients to see if they respond to various forms of communication and how they interact with different messages. Armed with this information, employees could discuss it within their practices to decide how to engage with patients in the future.
Keeping the lines of communication open
Communication isn’t a one-time occurrence. Digital patient engagement tools can help eye care practices start and maintain ongoing conversations.
By exchanging emails and/or text messages before and between office visits, practices and patients can share helpful information. By communicating after office visits, patients can explain how they’re doing and prevent workers from being blindsided by unknown problems. Patients can also use such conversations to praise workers and practices, which could give them much-needed morale boosts.
Backing employees during tough times
Of course, not all patient communication is positive. Many patients are eager to work with practices to resolve problems with efficiency and civility. But there are others who think and behave differently.
If things get nasty, eye care practices should protect their employees who are doing the right thing. Employers could vouch for employees and teach them how to handle difficult situations that could arise. The customer isn’t always right, and neither is the patient. Practices shouldn’t lose productive employees because of disgruntled patients.
Recognizing that burnout exists but is also treatable
Despite practices’ best intentions, sometimes employees still experience burnout.
To help staff members who lack energy, seem disillusioned, are making uncharacteristic mistakes, or aren’t acting like themselves, eye care practices might provide access to therapists, employee assistance groups, or other health care assistance. They can acknowledge that health care work is often tough, so they can praise them for doing it (and for doing it well).
Remembering that we’re all human
Whether people are struggling, achieving, or somewhere in between, it’s important to remember that they’re usually trying to succeed, despite the obstacles they might face.
The best health care staff members will make occasional mistakes, but they’ll also go above and beyond to help patients find the care they want and need. Workplaces that use best practices and support their staff members will ultimately help their workers and patients thrive.
For more information on helpful practices and systems, contact Eye Care Leaders. We can help you find ways to keep your employees and patients engaged while you’re building a successful practice.
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