Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.

Drive the Highest Levels of Growth Through Employee Engagement

Your brand is who you are. It’s how your community, patients, current and prospective employees, and competitors perceive you. It’s reflected by the team that you’ve assembled, for better or worse. And, it is intentional (i.e. it does not occur by accident)—you create it, you develop it, you maintain it, you own it.

Now think about your own brand—is it the brand that you want? If not, the best way to change it is through hiring and employee development. The takeaway is to hire the right people, pay attention to attitude, attributes, and traits, and create paths of development for your team. If you do these things, then you will drive employee engagement.

And only with a highly engaged team can you drive the growth that your organization needs.

But how do you deal with the team you have today? How can you make sure that you have the right people in the right seats? And if you do, then how do you keep them engaged?

In this post, we’ll review the three levels of employee engagement, how to identify where each employee resides, and how to manage them successfully to drive the highest levels of growth.

The first step is to identify and understand the levels of employee engagement:

Level 1: Engaged
Engaged employees distinguish themselves with a “whatever it takes” mindset. They most likely can and will do anything within the scope of the work environment. They are with your organization more out of love than money—love for you, the position, co-workers, customers and, most of all, for the organization’s vision and purpose. They are not difficult to identify as they will seek opportunities to mentor, look for challenging tasks and additional responsibilities, and exhibit the traits that you usually see in leaders. You need to hold onto these people. They will attract like-minded employees to your organization, become evangelists for your mission, and sometimes even help to motivate unengaged employees. You want a culture that shows them appreciation, challenges them, and provides opportunities for them to mentor. In other words, you want to create a path to organizational leadership for truly engaged employees.
Level 2: Unengaged

Unengaged employees are with you for the money. They may not be invested in the job or the organization but usually can and will do the work. Their skills and abilities are not called into question, but their motivation and commitment may be. You will get just enough out of unengaged employees and they will stay with you unless/until someone offers them more money. The best course of action with these employees is to engage with them more and try to figure out what motivates them. Look for a connection point or hot button and capitalize on it. They can be moved in the right direction and become engaged (and you can never have too many engaged employees!), but it takes a lot of effort.

Level 3: Actively Disengaged
Actively disengaged employees either can do the job but won’t or can’t do the job and don’t care enough to learn how. These are employees who will pollute your culture. They will help bring an unengaged employee down to their level and give reason for an engaged employee to leave. They can be identified by an air of entitlement, contributions to office gossip, and an unwillingness to learn. They thrive on drama and may say things like, “It’s not my job.” The best thing to do with employees like this is to manage them out by applying progressive discipline, including regular one-on-one discussions about their behavior and job performance. Set clear expectations and make sure that they understand changes need to be made and that they will be held accountable for making them.
In conclusion, the best people will come to work for you—and stay with you—because of an engaged culture. When hiring, look for these key traits: Emotional Intelligence (EQ), empathy, positivity, work ethic, coachability, passion, humility, and vulnerability. When managing, take the time to interact with and really get to know the people you’re leading. Also, practice sound performance management (set expectations, model behavior, observe and evaluate, provide feedback, and coach). Be consistent but recognize that performance management is not always a “one size fits all” process.

And remember: YOU control your culture and brand.

Our experienced recruiters can help you assemble a highly-engaged and high-performing team. Talk to your Account Manager today about taking advantage of our industry-leading, full lifecycle recruiting services or email the Recruiting Department at recruitingservices@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Final Rule on Overtime: Everything You Need to Know for 2020

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor published its long-awaited Final Rule to the “white collar” overtime exemptions which will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule determines whether employees are eligible or exempt for overtime pay.

To be exempt from overtime under the FLSA, employees must be paid a salary of at least the threshold amount and meet certain tests regarding their job duties. If they are paid less or do not meet those tests, they must be paid one-and-a-half times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

The new rule will raise the salary threshold from $455 a week ($23,660 annualized) to $684 a week ($35,568 annualized). It will also allow employers to pay up to 10 percent of that minimum level ($3,556.80) in commissions, bonuses, and other non-discretionary incentives.

Such bonuses include nondiscretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity or profitability. For employers to credit nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) toward a portion of the standard salary level test, such payments must be paid on an annual or more frequent basis.

For example, instead of guaranteeing a salary of $684 per week, an employer could pay $615.60 per week and provide incentive pay, bonus, or commission equal to $3556.80 (10 percent of $35,568) at the end of the year to reach to the salary threshold.

Exempt vs. Nonexempt

Exempt Employees: Employers must pay a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position in order for it to be exempt. Exempt positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections afforded nonexempt workers. Typically, only executive, supervisory, professional or outside sales positions are exempt positions.

Nonexempt Employees: Employees who fall within this category are not exempt from FLSA requirements. They must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and given overtime pay of not less than one-and-a-half times their hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 40 hours each week.

The new rule is expected to prompt employers to reclassify more than a million currently exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise pay for others above the new threshold. 

Meeting the salary threshold doesn’t automatically make an employee exempt from overtime pay—the employee’s job duties also must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined by the regulations.

And while the new rule has raised the salary threshold, there were no changes to the current duties test.

White Collar Exemptions

Each of the three white-collar exemptions has slightly different criteria which it’s important that employers review:

Executive Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise or a department or subdivision of the enterprise. The employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two employees and have the authority to hire or fire workers (or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to hiring, firing or changing the status of other employees must be given particular weight).

Administrative Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be performing office or nonmanual work that is directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers. The employee’s primary duty also must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Professional Exemption: The employee’s primary duty must be to perform work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning that is customarily acquired by prolonged, specialized, intellectual instruction and study.

Next Steps

Practices with exempt employees who currently earn more than $455 per week, but less than $684 per week, and who satisfy the duties requirements, will need to either increase the employee’s salary to the new level or re-classify the employee as non-exempt.

It is important for practices to consider how the new rule interacts with state laws. The general rule in employment law is that businesses must comply with the law that provides the most protection for the employee.

So, for example, in states that have their own exemption tests—such as California—the employer must satisfy whichever salary threshold is greater, whether it’s the federal or state rate.

Additionally, some states may have different duties tests as well as salary cutoffs, and it is important to understand and comply with the more stringent of the applicable rules.

You can read a list of FAQs regarding the Final Rule here.

For additional questions or assistance, please contact Consult YHN’s Human Resources Manager, Jodi Bryan, at 800-984-3272 ext. 305 or jbryan@consultyhn.com or Director of Recruiting, Ernie Paolini, at 800-984-3272 ext. 327 or epaolini@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Jodi Bryan is the Human Resource Manager at Consult YHN. Prior to joining the organization in 2013, she held HR positions with progressive responsibilities in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and banking industries. Jodi has been certified as a Professional in Human Resources since 2000.

Four Ways to Inspire & Motivate Your Staff

Is your team happy, productive, and motivated? Do they care about what they do and what the company stands for? Unengaged employees are a common problem for any type of business in any industry.

In fact, according to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” Report, over half of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. In other words, over 50 percent of current employees are unhappy with their current job and are actively looking for a new one.

If this doesn’t seem like a big deal, then consider these statistics: organizations with higher than average employee engagement realize 27 percent higher profits, 50 percent higher sales, and 50 percent higher customer loyalty levels.

So, as a manager, what can you do?

When it comes down to it, you can’t make people care. You can, however, inspire them to think differently about your business and the work that they do.

Here are four ways you can effectively inspire and motivate your team:

1. Evangelize company goals and values.

Make sure your employees understand what your vision is and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you communicate to them why you do what you do, they are more likely to treat the company as if it is their own. Show them their purpose and how it affects the business. Also, include your employees in your decision-making. Asking for a person’s input or opinion can give him/her a greater sense of belonging and help foster a culture of collaboration.

2. Incentivize and encourage them.

Show appreciation for employees that work hard and reward them for a job well done. Employees want to know that their work is acknowledged and valued. Offer constructive criticism to staff members when needed along with support to make changes so that you continue to boost their confidence. Consider putting a reward plan in place so that your employees have clear goals and something to work towards. Statistics show that this could increase employee performance by as much as 44 percent! Organizations that offer some sort of recognition program also have a lower turnover rate.

3. Invest in their professional growth.

Discover what’s important to your employees. This sends a clear message that you care about their future, not only with the company but in their professional career. More importantly, offer your staff periodic training opportunities that will strengthen the skills needed to thrive in their current roles or to advance within the company, such as Consult YHN’s weekly teletrainings and Employee Development Program (EDP) classes. Some of our practices will also offer tuition reimbursement to employees who want to continue their education. All of this helps to create “promotable” employees and, in turn, helps you save money in the long run.

4. Trust them.

Micromanaging is counterproductive. Have faith in your team’s abilities (that’s why you hired them in the first place!). It sounds so simple, but your trust has the potential to boost engagement, increase productivity, improve communication, build team spirit, and encourage employee advocacy. Cross-train your staff so that they have the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities in the future. Allow for mistakes, correct them, then step back and see how your employees manage without direct supervision.

Finally, don’t forget that Consult YHN offers industry-leading employee development and recruiting services that can help you build an engaged and high-performing team.

Ask your Account Manager for more information or contact our Recruiting Department today at RecruitingServices@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined Consult YHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and young daughter. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

The Daily Huddle: Why It’s Important & How to Do It Right

Imagine for a moment that you’re watching your favorite football team in a playoff game. It’s fourth down and there are 20 seconds on the clock. Your team has the ball at the 20-yard line. The entire season is on the line and they need a touchdown to win.

After taking their last time out, the offense heads back on the field, the quarterback huddles his guys and calls the play. They line up and hike the ball. The quarterback steps back, waits for his wide receiver to get open, then throws. It’s caught.

TOUCHDOWN!!!

You could change any of the specific details of this scenario and it wouldn’t necessarily change the outcome except for one: the huddle.

If the quarterback had not communicated the play to the rest of his team, there’s a good chance the game would have had a disappointing ending.

 THE DAILY HUDDLE

This is, in essence, the same reason why the Daily Huddle is key to the success of your practice: If you and your staff aren’t on the same page, communicating regularly and working towards a common goal, then you’re not effectively operating as a team.

And it’s so simple: a 15-minute meeting held (around roughly the same time) every business day in which you and your staff plan for the day and discuss important business objectives.

There’s a reason why restaurants, retail stores, and professional sports teams all do their own versions of a Daily Huddle: it helps to create a culture of accountability and collaboration within your business and instills an “opportunity mindset” in your employees.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

I know from personal experience what a difference this kind of open communication can make: I worked in a private practice for over three years where we had a meeting every week to discuss openings in our schedule and making sure that our patients were bringing a Third Party to their appointment. Then, one week, the owner opened up and told the team, “We need to sell X amount of hearing aids this month.”

That was a real game-changer for us! Suddenly, we had a mission. We started looking at our schedule differently. We thought about what each person needed to do in order to fill any gaps in it. We put a counter in our breakroom that displayed the number of devices we’d already sold and how many more we needed to sell to hit the magic number. We rallied around the owners and congratulated one another for every hearing aid sold. And we took even greater pride in knowing that another device sold meant another family’s life had been changed for the better.

The point is, setting goals for your employees and holding them accountable for reaching those goals can give them a greater sense of purpose and help keep them focused.

GETTING STARTED

All you need to get started is a schedule that reserves time for the appropriate number of hearing evaluations (opportunities) to meet your practice’s unit goals.

During your Daily Huddle, you should concentrate on any unfilled opportunity blocks (up to five days out) and identify ways to fill those gaps such as:

  • Front office staff rescheduling cancellations and no-shows
  • Patient Communication Specialists calling on Out of Warranty (OOW), Tested Not Sold (TNS), and other patients within the database
  • Providers making daily TNS calls

Consult YHN even provides a handy Daily Huddle Template for you to keep track of the numbers and use as a guide for each meeting. Some of our Associates follow this form to a T while others incorporate additional details that are more specific to their business goals.

OVERCOMING YOUR OBJECTIONS

Typically, we hear the same few objections from practices that aren’t doing the Daily Huddle. So, allow me to address each of them individually while also sharing examples of how some of our other Associates have implemented the Huddle in their own practices.

You feel uncomfortable discussing your finances with employees.

Our Daily Huddle template form only focuses on the numbers and figures (opportunities, units sold, Third Party rate, patient referrals, etc.) that are key to your success. Your employees aren’t going to start demanding raises the second you reveal how much money the practice makes. But if you’re honest with them and deliver details about the business in a way that they can connect with, it may open their minds so that they, too, are able to see the bigger picture.

Of course, nothing motivates people better than money. That’s why many practice owners offer their employees incentives for hitting certain goals, whether it be a free lunch or cash prize.

You’re not a morning person and/or are too busy to meet with your team every day.

Yes, when Consult YHN first rolled out the concept, it was called the “Morning Huddle.” But we’ve since amended the title and recommend that practices Huddle at whatever time of day is best for their schedule and staff as long as you’re consistent. For many of our Associates, that time is just after lunch.

On the other hand, I spoke to a Director of Operations who has found that an early review of the materials has made the process much more successful. So much, in fact, that he and his staff now Huddle at 7:30 AM, a half-hour before the office opens. That way, by the time patients start walking in the door, the staff is energized and ready to take on the day.

You have a large staff and more than one office.

This is hardly a reason not to Huddle. The more employees and locations you have, the more important it is to get everyone on the same page. One ENT clinic that we work with conducts its Daily Huddle via conference call with the entire staff at each of its five locations. During the day, this same team makes a concerted effort to work together in order to fill the schedule. If a patient cancels their appointment, the FOP sends a Skype message to each office, so everyone is aware that there’s now an open slot that needs to be filled.

You have no clue how to go about implementing it.

Our Account Managers are trained to help Associates implement all of Consult YHN’s different strategies and best practices. They do whatever they can to help you succeed. So, reach out to your Account Manager or reach out to me.

Whatever you do, just make sure you reach out to your employees — because trust me, you’d be surprised what 15-minutes can do for staff morale and your bottom line.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.