Staff Management

Spend Your Tax Break on Your Best Business Investment: People

By Roger Mummert
Content Director, Review of
Optometric Business

April 4, 2018

Business leaders are being asked where they are investing additional revenues from the new tax bill that lowers corporate taxes to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Some say they’re putting the largesse into stock buy-backs to increase shareholder value. This New Yorker gives them a big ol’ Bronx cheer. Cash-flush stockholders hardly need it; that’s not the point of the tax reduction.

Others say they’re investing the cash in new equipment, enhanced facilities and one other area that, in the long run, matters the most: their employees. The latter plays out in the form of bonuses, increased wages and support for ongoing learning and career development.

To these folks, I stand up and applaud. And the same can be said for OD-owners who support staff development: investing in people pays multiple dividends over time.

At the recent RevU Retreat in San Diego, I spoke with Kelly MacDonald, OD, and Scott Huffer, OD, of Focused Eyecare in Nashua, NH. They are five years into re-branding a well-established practice and positioning it for changing times and future growth.

Are they cutting staff to bounce their bottom-line? Hardly. They’re looking to increase the tech-to-doctor ratio to work more efficiently and maintain the highest standards of patient care. To do that, they’re enhancing the skills of their technicians. They recently promoted a tech to managerial staff, and they’re supporting staff education across the board. The fact that both ODs attended the RevU conference demonstrated their commitment to furthering their own business skills.

They discuss how this is working out in an ROB video interview. Click HERE ,or the image below, to watch:

Investing in people not only makes good business sense. It falls in line with the fundamental goals of health-care reform: to provide better care to more patients more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Another key takeaway from the RevU Retreat is that you have more resources at hand than you likely are maximizing: management systems underutilized, diagnostic technology not in continual use, empty chair time that e-communications programs could fill–and staff not fully challenged.

Mike Rothschild, OD, who heads the Fitify division of Rev 360, says that maximizing staff performance is a matter of recognizing the potential for leadership–and developing it from within. While in practice, he schooled staff in how to become managers. And he developed overall staff skills by shutting down the office twice a year for offsite staff retreats. Over two days, the entire staff (who were paid for their time) worked to analyze practice problems, come up with improvement plans, and to engage in team-building exercises. The result: a motivated staff and a stable practice.

I heard the doubters: Why should we OD-owners invest in an optical staff known for transience? And at a time when advanced technology allows for self-refraction and bio-monitoring in ways that may reduce the need for staff?

The answer, as I see it: It has to work both ways. OD-owners should invest in staff development only if staff invests in the practice long-term.

Columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times offers a perspective on all fields where automation is winnowing down people jobs. Companies should offer their employees a challenge: We will employ you throughout your career, if you promise to continue to retool and expand your skills to meet our changing needs.

“The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over,” Friedman writes. “If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner. And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill.”

In the process of investing in people, something wonderful happens. Employees transition into team members. The act of doing a job is elevated to that of serving a purpose: They are helping patients to maintain wellness and achieve their best vision throughout their lives–because you are helping your team and practice to flourish for years to come.

And that is the best investment of all.

 

Roger Mummert is Content Director of Review of Optometric Business. Contact: Rmummert@jobson.com

 

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