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Amy Alvarez | 2/22/2021
CHANGING OFFICE POLICIES? CONSIDER THESE THINGS FIRST!

Maybe you’ve experienced some unpleasant events in your practice that you didn’t have a policy to cover, or you team is large enough that you vacation policy isn’t working anymore. Maybe you have never liked you scheduling and time management policy but do not know how to go about changing it. If you have ever considered making a change in your practice, you know how difficult it can be to get your employees’ buy-in, especially when they “liked it the old way”.

Change is difficult for all people – no matter how much they brag about adaptability. Although we all have different tolerance levels to change, too much change at once can send even the most flexible person running for the hills.

While making your policies and procedures more effective for your practice, you may not be able to satisfy the wants of all your employees. Let’s explore ways to prepare for this and set yourself up for a successful start to support adoption.

First: Consider why this change is so important and all aspects of the new policy.

We don’t change policies or procedures in the practice for the fun of it and change without a purpose will ultimately just cause chaos. Missing this important step may add to the frustration you are trying to solve so give it the time it needs.

Ensure you have completed these steps:

  1. Evaluate what led you to this decision to make the change.
    • Use this to build communication for your team.
    • It is easier to explain something the more you understand it.
  2. Consider how this will be applied so you don’t have to change it again in a few months.
    • Walk through the worst and best cases of application of this policy.
    • Reflect on how it differs from the current practice.

Second: Evaluate if there might be any negative effect from this change.

Imagine you have decided to create a new vacation policy and you will no longer be allowing roll over PTO at the end of the year. However, you have a long tenured staff member that often saves up their PTO to take long trips to visit family every other year. This employee will potentially be bothered by the new policy as it has significant impact on them. Having a plan to address the effects of the changes will allow you to generate buy-in and more effectively communicate the policy.

Third: Generate buy-in from your team.

Having completed steps 1 and 2, you will be ready to share this with your team. Understanding the purpose of this policy will allow you to share with the team why this change was important. If there are any employees who will be negatively affected by this change, speak to them directly before sharing with everyone else. Share with the whole team in person, like at a staff meeting.   Allow them to ask questions. Answer the ones you can in the moment. If there are any you can’t, bring them to the next staff meeting.   Provide copies of this policy or upload it to your EHR so your employees have access to it.

Fourth: Document if needed.

At the end of all this important work, new individual policies or whole manual updates should be signed off on by your employees. Documentation creates accountability and gives you the peace of mind that your employees understand the next expectations.

 

Amy Alvarez
Human Resources Consultant
Amy Alvarez, SHRM-CP is IDOC’s Human Resources Consultant. Amy has experience in HR in healthcare and retail, management in big box and specialty retail stores and physician recruitment. Through these roles and training, Amy is well-versed in recruitment and hiring strategies for “hard to fill” roles, dealing with low productivity, helping encourage employee engagement, on-boarding, training, day-to-day management in a retail setting, employee relations, and so much more.
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