A working mom’s life is, quite literally, a balancing act. Lean too far toward the office, and your children get short shrift. Lean too far toward home, and office resentments can flare up.
Practice managers and physicians can relate to this type of performance—working moms must be accommodated to keep them in their jobs, but you can’t appear to favor them over workers without kids.
Compounding the delicate dance is the lack of information specific to medical practices, where the rules are a bit different. In a corporate office, a task can usually wait until the next day or be covered by a co-worker. That’s not always the case in your practice, where items that slip through the cracks can mean missed co-payments, claims not submitted properly, and even issues with patient communication.
- Cross-training is one of three valuable suggestions in this article by Fierce Practice Management’s Deborah Beaulieu-Volk, which looks at how to mitigate these issues. Late child-care pick up can come with a fine, and children cannot be left by a bus driver unless someone is home, so leaving the office at a certain time is critical for parents. Cross training is the best way to alleviate these stressful situations. And it’s a good idea for managers to have a good idea of which employees have more flexibility. Of course, if those staffers are willing to stay late or come in early, they should be properly compensated. It’s the right thing to do, and it goes a long way toward tamping down resentment toward workers with families by workers without them.
- That resentment is something that should be dealt with head-on whenever possible. Consulting groups have seen situations where working parents are affecting practice revenue in an attempt to make their schedules work. One receptionist who needed to leave exactly at 5:00 stopped scheduled patients after 3:30. The only way to prevent this is to keep the lines of communication wide open. Tell your employees you’d like them to be honest about their needs—and make sure they believe you. Let them know you’d like to solve any issues related to childcare conflicts or work/life balance together. The narrower your communication lines, the greater the risk unhappy employees will poison your practice’s culture or leave abruptly.
- Finally, be sure to address another type of communication. Parents with school-aged children need to check in with them shortly after the school-day ends, which can lead to switchboard issues and a period of frequent disruptions around 3:00. Rather than forcing parents to sneak their check-ins, acknowledge that everyone has a life outside the practice and provide them with a direct-dial extension if necessary. As Beaulieu-Volk notes in her article, employees who feel supported and appreciated are likely to extend that sincerity to your patients.