Thomas H. Jacobs, president and CEO of MedHQ, shared how best to save control labor costs at surgery centers at the Becker's 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference, held Oct. 24-26 in Chicago.
His presentation was entitled "Three Strategies to Control Labor Cost at Your Surgery Center."
According to Mr. Jacobs, human resources expense management in ASCs doesn't get much attention, though labor is the biggest ASC expense line, ringing in at just shy of 30 percent of center costs. Dealing with people can be difficult, emotional, uncertain and intangible. Tackling HR head-on has concrete benefits, however: "Being a great place to work and working with people makes for financially successful companies," said Mr. Jacobs.
Mr. Jacobs shared six things ASCs should consider for HR support improvement.
1. Employee discipline issues can become incredibly expensive if left untended. Employee attendance issues may decrease work productivity, affect the work environment, lead to inappropriate work behavior and cause high turnover, all to the tune of $200,000. If HR has the tools to address issues before they spiral out of control, preliminary losses may be cut as much as ten-fold.
2. Know what you're up against as an employer. The top ASC employer risks are discrimination, poor employee attendance, low work productivity, Family Medical and Leave Act, American Disabilities Act, an unhealthy work environment, inappropriate behavior, involuntary termination and sexual harassment. Be cognizant of these risks and work to avoid them.
3. Permeate values. Invest in a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. Create an environment in which team members mirror company values to develop a disciplined culture of excellence. This cuts down on conflict.
4. Have a compensation strategy that makes sense. Great employees are not necessarily the most expensive employees; they are the best of their class. Though it's important to offer market pay, it's still possible to attract "A" players, even if your center isn't offering top dollar. Seek people who are more excited about the job at hand than the compensation.
5. Use interviews to shore up current work structures. Peer interviewing is a great tool. By asking several trusted employees to help interview, not only can employers affirm great candidates, but they can also get an idea of how well potential employees measure up in terms of company culture and values.
6. Consider automation. Automated time-keeping saves ASCs between 1 percent and 4 percent of gross wages, which amounts to $50,000 annually for a typical surgery center. In addition, automation helps manage the arrival and departure of employees in a way that ensures company, employee and patient security remains intact.
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