By Lacey Heftka, Guest Contributor
If there’s one thing I can say about 99 percent of practices in oral & maxillofacial surgery (OMS), it’s that most of them don’t have an official human resources (HR) person in their office. What usually happens is this: The HR duties end up falling into the lap of the office administrator who’s usually already working with a lot on their plate. Sound familiar? Chances are you’re in this boat, especially if you work at an OMS office that’s smaller in size.
The general (legal) rule of thumb is this: For every 50 employees at any business, there should be one HR person. As the Director of Human Resources at Associates in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Chattanooga, TN, our office is large for our specialty with 71 employees across three locations in two different states, so they need someone devoted to human resources full time to ensure employee satisfaction.
Here’s a quick look at some tips you can use to make your case to bring an HR ace to your practice…
Seven years ago, when I stumbled across the job description for my current position, it wasn’t a blatant call for HR help. It was more that the admin at the time was looking for an assistant. It was an excellent opportunity to learn and also to show that what they were asking me to do, was actually real HR work.
It will take time to convince your doctors that your job responsibilities include many tasks which should fall under an HR position, but you can change your HR story. If your doctors don’t understand the benefits or skill set an HR professional can add to the practice, you’ll have to prove it to them, and this will take subtlety and patience. But we’ve got 4 secrets to make that case a little easier for the people who make the decision.
Usually, the case is something like this: The doctors are so incredibly skilled at their jobs and busy with surgeries that they don’t have a good grasp when it comes to human resources. Most practice admins wind up feeling completely overwhelmed because they have to juggle all of the clinical and business aspects that can quickly become intertwined and complicated. So while the doctors are busy taking care of patients, the practice admins are busy trying to take care of business and employee needs. They can only do so much!
These are my tips you can use to get the HR help you need (and deserve):
Tip #1: An investment in HR is an investment in your employees that will pay off tremendously for your practice. When successful practices put their employees first and focus on the business side (not just the clinical needs), people will go above and beyond for you. Having someone solely devoted to human resources, employee morale, and employee relations, means everyone can stand to gain something personally and financially.
Tip #2: If you’re a smaller oral surgery office and you’re the admin who’s tasked with doing all of these things, it’s vital that you find balance. Maybe it’s time to find out if you can bring someone in part-time to assist with HR, or outsourcing payroll and benefits to free up your time.
Tip #3: Consider restructuring at your office. We have six doctors who are all in charge of overseeing a different part of the practice from finance to insurance. We also have a Director of Clinical Operations, and Director of Business Operations, and me. The doctors are directly involved in the business side of the practice everyday. If you’re in a smaller office, maybe you can talk your doctor or doctors about becoming more aware of or involved in what’s going on so that they can easily see your human resources needs.
Tip #4: Don’t worry if you’re struggling with HR or if there’s an issue that comes up and you have no clue how to fix it. There’s a lot of grey in human resources; it’s not black and white. You have to remember to be accommodating and flexible. If there’s absolutely no way for you to get the HR help you need right way, don’t panic. There are people and resources that can help, especially SOMSA. This is where networking and memberships like SOMSA become so beneficial. Reach out to a peer who works in HR every day as another OMS admin in a similar situation. Use them to get perspective and bounce ideas around.
In addition to the member forum and all of the other SOMSA tools you can use, I also recommend checking out a membership in the Society of Human Resource Management. They have a wealth of information and resources available for various topics to help you learn more about HR. Most communities have local chapters you can join for added networking power.
I hope you’ve learned a little bit here today! Human resources can be a beautiful beast sometimes, but it’s a critical key to your practice’s success that shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored.