How Your Employee Handbook Can Improve and Protect Your Optometry Practice
Your optometry employee handbook is critical to helping your employees to thrive in your practice environment.
Implementing your handbook successfully requires your knowledge of what makes a successful employee handbook with current best practices. We have some tips to implement your handbook.
What Your Optometry Employee Handbook Should Contain
When you implement an optometry employee handbook, you should understand what a handbook is and why your practice needs one. Your employee handbook provides guidelines and information about your practice’s mission, values, policies and procedures, and your practice’s code of conduct.
The handbook can be a beneficial resource for your employees to familiarize themselves with what they need to know in your optometry practice. An employee handbook helps employees in many ways. For example, it can give employees vitally important information about the appropriate safety procedures they need to follow.
Mission and Vision Statement
A mission and vision statement in your handbook tells your employees the purpose of your optometry practice and the values the practice represents. Focusing on patients as the center of your practice should be foremost in your mission statement. Next, you should focus on your employees as being valuable to the practice and striving toward that mission.
Statement About Community
You should state the purpose of your optometry practice and how your practice should add value to its community. You do not only have a business, but you are also part of a larger community with your practice employees, their families, your patients, and those near to them. Including your community in your mission or vision statement can help you center and focus on why your practice is important.
Prohibition Against Discrimination and Harassment
Federal, state, and local employment laws through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other regulatory agencies protect you, your practice, and your employees from discrimination and an adverse practice environment.
Your employee handbook should communicate federal, state, and local laws about discrimination and the required steps for handling complaints and investigations. Use your handbook to formally communicate your compliance with these laws and that your practice will protect your employees from racism, sexual harassment, religious discrimination, and other forms of discrimination in the workplace.
Prohibition Against Retaliation
Retaliation for bringing problems to light and/or for utilizing benefits that employees are legally entitled to, must be prohibited. You should state in your employee handbook that whistle-blowers will not face retaliation when they bring forward concerns . In addition, practice owners must be mindful of the fact that legally required policies for protected leaves of absence also state that employees cannot be retaliated against for utilizing leave benefits that they may qualify for.
Your optometry practice’s employee handbook should explain your practice’s procedures around areas like leaves of absence, performance management, and options for resolving problems. Policies like the Open-Door Policy are essential for your employees to understand where they can turn to, to receive help with problems.
The usual procedure is for employees with a grievance or problem to speak with their immediate supervisor to resolve issues. When speaking with an immediate supervisor is impossible, for example, employees need to know they can go to the next level of management to resolve the problems through Human Resources.
An open-door policy and/or complaint procedure in your handbook helps your employees feel safe and welcome in your practice. Feeling safe ensures your employees can focus on and give better patient care.
Your employees should know that conduct that is inappropriate in violation of a handbook policy for behavior, words, and conduct at the practice will face discipline. Optometry practices should have a handbook and policies that outline standards of conduct at a high level, and try to avoid writing out specific measures of disciplinary action- this removes your discretion and forces you to follow what is in the handbook, even if the circumstances of the situation would lead you to choose a different level of discipline. With that in mind you can note in your standards of conduct policy that violations of handbook policies, depending on the severity, can result in disciplinary action leading up to and including employee termination.
The employee handbook should state that those who report harmful actions and words will not experience negative consequences.
An employee handbook should give guidance about issues based on job-related qualifications and individual performance, with the established expectations detailed in the employee handbook.
Area for Employee Acknowledgment
Employees should acknowledge they have received your employee handbook. With written acknowledgment, critical papers are easily lost. Electronic acknowledgment with an employee signature keeps track of the employees who have received and acknowledged receipt of your optometry practice’s handbook. Employee acknowledgment helps cover legal questions at your practice should any issues arise about your employees where they say they didn’t know about a policy. An acknowledgment of the handbook makes that a difficult claim for an employee to make.
You don’t have to worry about your employees receiving your required policies, content, or unique practices of your office when you use the HR for Health software. We can help you easily add unique and customized policies for your practice and track employee handbook receiving.
Launching Your Handbook for Optometry Employees
Your optometry practice’s handbook needs flexibility, because federal, state, and local laws change. A good way to keep your practice handbook current is to use a soft copy, an electronic copy (not paper). Electronic documents make revisions easy, while hard copies rely upon multiple steps that are manual work. Another advantage of digital solutions is their elimination of physical paper and document storage needs. An advantage of electronic copies for your handbook is that software allows your employees to give electronic acknowledgment about receiving their copies and they are just as valid as hard copies when we think of compliance in this area.
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Communication About Your Handbook for Optometry Employees
Communication with your employees about your employee handbook should begin before you implement policies. You should inform your employees about policy changes in advance of publication and distribution. This prepares your employees for any changes they may not understand, giving them time to adjust to the new policies and ask clarifying questions.
Employees are more open to policy changes when they don’t have to scramble to keep up with new expectations. Employees who don’t have to comply with policies at the last minute can focus on their work and deliver good patient care.
Transparency is Key
Transparency in creating and implementing your optometry handbook is essential to creating trust, compliance with policies, and a good work environment, as well as a safe practice for you, your employees, and your patients.
What does transparency mean in your practice? Transparency means honesty, where all expectations, policies, and goals for the practice are stated in the employee handbook. There are no secret, unstated policies or policies that favor some employees arbitrarily. Transparency means everyone in the practice abides by the same rules to keep patients safe.
How HR for Health Can Help
Your optometry handbook is an important statement of how you run your practice. A dedicated HR Specialist can help you ensure that the customizations you want to make for your handbook are compliant. HR Specialists can also help advise on policies unique to your practice and that you are considering to add to your handbook. There is no limit to the revisions you can make to your handbook when you are a client of HR for Health. We keep clients informed of law updates that can affect their handbook policies, and update our handbook policy templates when law changes require edits. You can request a review of your handbook to capture updates that have occurred since the last revision at no extra charge.
Contact HR for Health when you have questions about implementing your handbook, revisions to your handbook, and employee acknowledgment of receiving your handbook. Our cloud-based, intuitive HR software streamlines your practice’s operations and handbook management so you can focus on growth.