How to Attract and Retain Eyecare Staff in a Turbulent Economy
By Eleni Karayeva July 08, 2022
With wage expectations going up and inflation rising, businesses are faced with difficulties hiring and retaining their staff. Eye care practices are no exception: what used to be a relatively simple process - a quick, informal ad, a word-of-mouth referral - has turned into a struggle to find the right employees. What can be done to not only attract but keep top talent in today’s job market?
Understand the market
You might be spending some time each day going through resumes, rejecting those that don’t look “polished” enough, but how attractive does your ad - and your practice - appear to job seekers? This is an aspect of the process that is often overlooked. Think of it as marketing your practice to job seekers. The tables have turned and it is now the job applicants who are putting you through a selection process. Independent eye care practices in particular are facing stiff competition from chain stores that can afford to offer significant benefit packages as well as other perks. Small independent practices should focus on what it is that makes them stand out: it could be the inclusive culture in the practice, or the role it plays in the community; either of these are attractive in the modern workplace
Make your practice stand out
When building up your online presence, don’t forget that your audience includes not only patients but potential employees. Advertise your practice, keeping in mind the question “why us?”. When it comes to your website, pay particular attention to how you craft your “about us” page. Let this page tell your practice’s story - and its mission - and then be consistent in telling this story across all social platforms used by your practice. This goes for hiring sites as well: be creative with your ads and avoid the cut-and-dry tone that is so prevalent in many hiring ads. At the same time, you want to avoid putting up job ads that are all fluff and have no substance.
To attract top talent, you might need to reconsider your entire salary and benefits structure. If your offered hourly rate is below, or just at, the market average for your area, potential candidates are unlikely to leave their current positions to join your team. If you're hesitant to advertise a higher starting salary, opt for a wider range instead. This approach is more likely to intrigue job seekers. Also, consider offering more flexibility, even if you’re looking to fill a full-time position. Many are not looking to commit to a 9-5 sort of job. At the same time, having two part-timers has its advantages: less likelihood of burnout, plus a part-time position is easier to fill if one employee does decide to quit.
Investing in your employees
Talent migration has been a growing phenomenon in an employee-favoring job market. Once you’ve found the right person for your team, what can be done to make them stay? It’s not easy for any company.
While salaries remain a significant factor, a commonly asked question to employers today is “what is the culture here like?”. From an outside perspective, ask yourself if this is the place where you'd love to work. Collectively, workplace culture is not just the set of values that are important to you and your practice; it's also what you do - and how - to get there. Identify those values and processes and use them to attract the right talent. If your employees are made to feel as though they are able to contribute to the success of the practice directly, it’s a win-win for all.
Setting attainable goals for your team is sure to keep them engaged and motivated. A good bonus structure can make the staff feel directly involved in the success of the practice. How much and how frequently would vary from one practice to another. Yearly bonuses are common, but have their drawbacks, as some employees might lose sight of such far-out goals. Consider setting monthly or even weekly goals and sharing the bonus among all staff once those goals are met. This approach would encourage teamwork and reward the staff's day-to-day efforts.
Education is perhaps the ultimate investment you can make in your employees. This can be as simple as providing initial hands-on training to sponsoring your staff's enrollment in formal educational programs. Ongoing training and the opportunity to learn new skills might in itself be a perk for some employees. Besides in-office training, you can further develop and grow your staff by having them participate in continuing education. Make it a company tradition to send your employees to Vision Expo; on a smaller scale, many eyecare alliances and vendors host educational opportunities (talks, webinars, lunch-and-learns) throughout the year. And lastly, if your hiree isn’t already ABO-certified, consider enrolling them in a program like the OCPP to help them work towards getting their certification. (If your practice employs ophthalmic technicians, there are specialized certification programs available as well). Providing such opportunities for your staff shows them that you are serious about developing and growing them as employees. Though requiring certification or enrollment in such programs has become fairly common in certain larger companies, not many family-owned practices go in this direction. The employer offering this growth opportunity will surely give you a competitive edge in your local job market.
Today's job market might be challenging, but with the right approach, this challenge can turn into an opportunity to discover and develop the perfect staff for your practice. Identify what it is that best defines your workplace culture and see how well it aligns with what matters to today's employees. Once you've found the right people, investing in them is the key to making them want to stay and grow.