The two of us started Coleman Vision in 1996 and ran the practice without a staff for about 2 years. Since then, it has grown considerably but is still regarded as a small company. We therefore have the luxury of nurturing our employees and benefiting from that attention in the forms of their high productivity and retention. We recognize the importance of peoples' personal lives and have adopted a corporate culture that allows for flexibility. We aim to maintain our employees' loyalty by rewarding them from time to time and taking the importance of their livelihood into account. This article highlights some of our practices that keep both us and our employees very happy and the business running smoothly and productively.
WHOM WE HIRE
Dr. Coleman has never considered hiring an individual from another refractive practice. He would rather employ a former patient who is kind, smart, well dressed, and friendly or else someone with a special spark, like the bank teller who has that joyful personality. For example, he hired a woman from a local news station as his microkeratome technician, because she had tremendous eye-hand coordination and a fantastic attitude. According to Dr. Coleman, she is one of his best employees and now runs his Intralase laser (Intralase Corp., Irvine, CA). He also never places undue importance on the background of a potential employee with respect to ophthalmic certifications but instead chooses to concentrate on what specific role that person would play in a LASIK practice. Training is intensive and practically on a daily basis.
Maximum flexibility is key to keeping employees happy. No one staff member works a full week (Monday through Friday) at our facility. All employees' schedules are commonly based upon ongoing changes in their lives, whether one has just had a child and needs to be home at a certain time or a different family situation, such as an aging parent that requires home care. Employees in the aforementioned situations may require a specific work schedule that allows them to take more time off to tend to personal matters, and we accept that. Some employees work 40 hours per week split into 4 10-hour days. Others are permitted to work only 32 hours per week. We view such arrangements as something like a promotion, because the employees are happy and working less but getting paid the same. This flexibility keeps them motivated.
COMPENSATION AND PERKS
Paying your employees for a job well done is obviously very important. We do not pay employees an incentive for booking a specific number of surgeries. Rather, we offer additional compensation whenever we see fit and sometimes just because. For instance, we may pick up the tab when staff members are going out for dinner, or, if someone is going away on vacation, we frequently pay for their airline tickets.
Our practice is still small enough that we have not had to implement standard operating procedures. A Mom-and-Pop mentality has really paid off for us in terms of employees' loyalty and productivity. We do not micromanage our workers, because they are well aware of their duties and our expectation that they will be completed. Supervisors and staff maintain a trusting relationship.
Stephen Coleman, MD, is Director of Coleman Vision in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Coleman may be reached at (505) 821-8880; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Coleman Speer is Director of Operations at Coleman Vision in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ms. Speer may be reached at (505) 821-8880; email@example.com.