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Urgent care staffing isn’t an exact science, and there are many pitfalls the startup operator can encounter.

A recent study by Right Management (a subsidiary of Manpower) of workers in the U.S. and Canada revealed that nearly 44% of those surveyed stated that they were unsatisfied in their jobs, according to a recent FORBES article. In a similarly conducted survey, nearly 32% of respondents stated that they wanted to leave their jobs. Considering the economy, high unemployment and relative uncertainty of job growth across the country, it would seem that many employees are merely trudging through the day with an it’s better than nothing attitude.

So what does this mean to the new urgent care start-up?

Consider for a moment that you likely spent several weeks prior to opening agonizing over all those applications, trying to select the four or five folks that would become your receptionist, medical assistant or new x-ray techs? Your goal was to create a team of medical professionals that delivered world-class care to the patients you serve. On paper, and most likely in the interview, these candidates might have appeared to be the cream of the crop. Yet here you are weeks or even months after opening and perhaps some of the shine is wearing off.

Sound familiar? All too often we receive calls from clients asking how to manage staffing problems or more specifically, what to do when a staff member is not performing to the level of expectation. Oddly enough, nearly every new urgent care center we’ve ever worked with will experience a staff turnover within their first year of operation. Why? Possibly because there is so much change in the early days of operation and many folks simply don’t adapt well to that environment. While that statement is quite true, it is more likely the reason for the loss, and even the statistics quoted above, is that many employers simply don’t take the time to communicate effectively with their employees.

Here are a few pointers that might help foster better employer-employee relationships and help reduce the likelihood that your urgent care will have the HELP WANTED sign displayed.

  1. Make sure your employees have a clear understanding of their job duties and responsibilities. Each position should have a written job description and this should be provided to the employee prior to hiring.
  2. Give feedback. OFTEN and HONESTLY! Constructive critique improves character if delivered compassionately but don’t forget to also deliver the ˜job well done!’ too.
  3. Encourage two-way communication from staff. Don’t create an atmosphere where communication to management/owners is funneled upward through supervisors or middle management.
  4. Stop the rumor mill by (a) not tolerating the behavior and (b) promoting state of the clinic style informational meetings

And lastly, when it becomes necessary, don’t hesitate to terminate the employee that’s not a good fit for your organization. When you’ve tried everything else, just remember that some staff members are ants at your picnic. You simply cannot afford for their poor behavior to drag the other staff down or worse still, reflect on the patient’s experience while in your care.

Strive for your urgent care to be the place that everyone wants to work and foster an atmosphere of good communication. Reducing staff turnover will create a better company culture, happier employees and translate into better patient care.

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