Avoiding Employee Disputes

Not to long ago, I had an emergency coaching session with a Nurse Practitioner who owns a large, very busy clinic regarding an unhappy employee. This employee was subsequently let go and is now suing for improper firing. While this NP had most of her ducks in a row (and thus the lawsuit will likely be dismissed), it is incredibly stressful, costly and disruptive none-the-less. Here are a few tips so that you can avoid the same fate.

  1. Always do background checks on employees. It does not matter who the employee is. You want to do this on your receptionist, medical assistant, biller, bookkeeper as well as your colleagues (NPs, Pas, MDs).
  2. If you are unsure of how to do this, there are services you can hire that will do this for you.
  3. Always check references and take care to check out who you are getting the references from. Call and ask for the practice manager, not someone by name. You may end up getting someone who is not who they are suppose to be (as happened in this situation).
  4. Have clear employee policies and follow them! Each employee should have a copy of the policies, and SIGN that they have received them and read them.
  5. You’ll want to have a probationary period. You must do an evaluation at the end of this period, no matter how busy you are! And you’ll need to document the results.
  6. When you see problems, address them immediately. Come up with some corrective strategies this employee can implement and give a “check back” date…and then follow through. Again, document this.
  7. Your employee polices should include a section with causes for immediate dismissal. Don’t make excuses…follow your policies.
  8. If you don’t have a human resources expert at your disposal, there are consultants you can hire to look over your policies and consult when you have problems. This may save you in legal fees in the future.

While some practices can operate with just the owner, most of us need some sort of office/clinic support – and thus employees are inevitable. By putting these polices into place early on, you can avoid many of these problems. Fortunately, problem employee are not the rule, rather they are the exception.

If you are an NPBO™ member, make sure you check out the download library where you will find an entire packed of employee related materials including an employee manual that you can customize to your own business.

© 2009-2010 Barbara C. Phillips, NP

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