4/5/22
Zed Williamson

How to Hire and Retain Top Medical Office Staff

Discover the proven strategies your medical practice can follow to hire great medical office staff and keep them happily employed.

Finding great employees can be difficult on its own – but the talent landscape of the last 2 years has created the perfect storm for medical practices. But you’re not alone.

Thanks to the “Great Resignation” brought on by COVID-19, organizations in all industries are having to develop new tactics and incentives to attract and keep their best employees on the team.

Whether you’re a physician owner or a practice administrator, it’s essential that your hiring and retention strategies are built for today’s talent war.

We recently hosted a webinar for medical practices on this very topic as part of The Growth-Driven Practice Series. In this webinar, attendees learned how to win the talent war and hire (or keep) top talent at a time when it seems impossible. We encourage you to watch the webinar. However, keep reading for a quick overview of the most powerful lessons every practice can and should adopt.

First, recognize the reality about today’s battle for talent

When thinking about attracting and keeping top talent on your team, you have to understand who the talent is and what options they have at their disposal. As the Baby Boomer generation retires, the Millennial generation has become the largest part of the workforce with Gen-Z trailing close behind.

And the millennials in particular are open to working remotely, meaning they are not only interested in jobs in their city – but you may be competing with employers around the globe for the SAME talent. For example, a company in Los Angeles, California, can recruit and hire a remote employee from Little Rock= Arkansas (and pay them a Los Angeles salary).  

Before the pandemic, one of every 67 jobs was a work-from-home role. Now, it’s one out of every seven jobs. Especially for medical offices who cannot shift to a remote environment, this is a reality you can’t afford to skip over.  

To compete in the new work landscape, companies must surpass the competition where it really matters: culture. Being honest about your culture and putting it front-and-center for potential and even current teammates is the key to finding and keeping the right talent for your organization.

Identify the behaviors you’re looking for, not just the skills

The culture at your practice, or the way you bring your behavioral values to life, should play a huge part in your hiring process. Make sure your core behavior values are clear, and that you can hire, review, reward, and terminate around them.

The typical recruiting process includes thinking through the characteristics that you want and don’t want from your next hire, writing it in a job ad, and publishing it on a job board. Then, you wait to be noticed.

What you’ll get with a vague message like this is a giant pool of potential hires without any insight into how you define the characteristics you’re looking for. Not great. It also casts a wide net instead of allowing you to be intentional with who sees the job ad.

Instead, take the time to define what each characteristic looks like within your clinic.

2 Questions to Ask:

  • What are the foundational characteristics that will make someone successful in this role?
  • How can I create a job target that allows our practice to specify both the behavioral and cognitive attributes associated with job success and employee engagement?

By outlining these critical factors prior to meeting with any candidate, you set quantifiable metrics against which to measure each applicant.

Note: We go more in depth about this on the webinar and showcase specific values that we use at TrackableMed if you’d like to adopt some of the same practices. Watch the webinar here.

Be smart about where you advertise the job

A “we’re hiring” poster on the front door isn’t going to do it. In fact, the hiring ads have been so prevalent in the last 2 years, that people may not even be paying attention anymore.

It’s critical that you’re intentional about how you promote the position. Instead of posting an ad publicly on a job board, consider posting it privately, filtering through profiles on the site, and inviting candidates to apply directly.

You can also post the job as a paid ad on social media platforms and use targeting parameters to display it to your ideal hire. Putting the ad in front of the best possible candidates increases the chance of finding a good-fit hire who embraces the culture and sticks around for the long term.

Create a culture of celebration and impact

People want to make a difference with their work – this is especially true in recent years! And this is key to the retaining part of the equation.

In the medical field, the patient impact that private practices have is unbelievable, but it very seldom receives enough focus. Instead, we’re often focused on the next appointment, task, or error that needs to be addressed.

To strengthen employees’ perception of their job value, find and share at least one story a week with your team—such as how they helped a patient who struggled with back pain for years to suddenly find relief—can have a huge impact on the significance that your team sees in their work.

This can also be done on an individual level during 1:1 coaching sessions where you discuss their performance.

Nip negativity in the bud

Toxicity also has a role to play in employee retention – a very negative one!

For example, if you have lower-performing employees who create a toxic environment for others, but their behavior is never addressed, this can put added strain on top performers. It creates an uncomfortable environment for them and also shows them that the level of dedication and attention they put into their work isn’t necessary.

While the conversations are tough, addressing toxicity or issues in the environment is just as important as displaying positive behavioral values when it comes to encouraging top talent to stick around.

Looking for More Advice to Attract and Retain Top Performers?

This recap is only part of the story. For more insight into how to attract top candidates, how to prevent turnover and burnout in your organization, and what to do when you can’t hire fast enough, you can watch the webinar, “Talent Wars: How to hire (and keep) top-notch medical office staff (plus what to do when it seems impossible)” on demand.

You can also find more resources on best practices to grow your practice in our resource library.