“Wait, what? NO! I’ve heard you say many times before that you shouldn’t treat staff like family! You’re contradicting yourself, Burris!” I can almost hear you say. Ok, you got me. I wanted to get your attention so that we can talk about how you do vacation in your office.
Let’s imagine you have 8 staff members and the average employee gets 3 weeks a year of vacation.
8 staff x 3 weeks of vacation/year = 24 total weeks/year x 5 days per week =
120 days/year of total staff vacation.
So if you let staff take paid vacation whenever they like then you have the potential to be short-handed 120 workdays a year. Considering the average orthodontist works 3-4 days a week and about 45 weeks a year (135-180 patient days a year), you have the potential to be short-staffed 67-89% of the time!!!
So what’s the solution? How do you insure you’re not chronically short staffed? Do you hire extra employees and maintain a constant state of being overstaffed?
NO! Staff costs are the biggest expense in most orthodontic offices. Don’t be crazy. There is a much simpler solution.
Make your policy that paid vacation can only be taken during designated times.
Yes your current employees will resist, but yes you can do this!
- Explain to employees why you are making the change.
- Let your employees take any vacations that are already planned and paid for this year. (make the change now but make it effective once the paid vacations are finished)
- Make your practice schedule (the days you plan to see patients) a year in advance (or at least 6 months) so employees can plan their vacations.
- Don’t change your calendar once you make it. This takes self-discipline doctor!
- Be firm and hold your ground and make it clear this policy is here to stay.
- Don’t play favorites – apply the rules as they are written and do so evenly.
- Be reasonable if there is a death or a wedding (meaning an employee or their offspring is getting married).
- Understand that you will likely lose one or more employees.
- Be glad you and your staff are not waiters, bartenders or salespeople – they never get nights, weekends or holidays off! We have to work when people want braces so that kinda sucks but it could be much worse and we have a pretty sweet gig!