7 Surprising Reasons Why Your Medical Staff is Unhappy

Being happy at your job is a lot more than the money factor.   (although getting paid more does make it easier look the other way when problems arise)  Happiness directly correlates to performance on the job and how long your staff stays with you.

Your staff is your foundation, without a strong team of dedicated nurses, PA’s, office administrators at your helm, your ship will sink.  The reason I am posting this article is to provide education to those in charge about ways to better the work environment so that you can increase the efficiency of your office and reduce churn of employees.


How do you know your staff is unhappy?

bar-rescueHave you ever watched Bar Rescue? I know it has nothing to do with healthcare, but you can learn a lot about employee moral and running a business by watching this show.

During a typical episode, Taffer and one or more members of his team perform reconnaissance (e.g., a team member pretending to be a patron) and surveillance (using “hidden” video cameras in the kitchen and customer service areas, pre-installed with the owners’ consent) on a struggling bar to determine its operational and service weaknesses.

Based upon these initial observations, Taffer then meets with the owner(s) and staff to discuss his findings, and to describe the specific changes that he insists must be made (e.g., management, customer service, work ethic, cleanliness, finance) for it to become a surviving and thriving business.

The reason why it works is because he asks the staff and management tough questions like…

  • Why are you unhappy?
  • Whats the biggest problem in this office?
  • Why are you not able to do your job more efficiently?
  • What can management/staff do to improve?
  • What do you need to make your job easier?

When was the last time you asked these tough questions at  your last meeting?

Are your employees open to sharing their grievances?  Do they feel like they can offer truthful statements?  Or is everyone worried about losing their jobs so not to offer real suggestions?

At referralMD, we use an online forum software and created a subgroup category called, “airing of grievances” where all employees are open to sharing details.  In order to get everyone comfortable, seed the forums with your own problems/challenges and ask your other employees to do the same.


7 Most common reasons for employee unhappiness


1.  Feeling under-appreciated 

Almost every job becomes a grind, doing the same thing day in and day out.  Do not wait until the exit interview to figure out how to make your staff feel appreciated.

medical staff unappreicatedHere are a few things you can do today to change their lives and your practice for the better.

  • Individual recognition Team building is all the rage in today’s workplace.  Company parties, morning stand-up meetings, etc.  But we forget that people need to be recognized outside of a group from time to time and be rewarded for their individuality.   It is ok to pull your staff aside and give them a reward that no one else in the office will get.

How to make it better?

Your front-office admin does an amazing job taking care of patients, answering calls, social media, etc.  Reward them with a few days off to attend a seminar on how to improve their day-to-day job efficiency.  Not only will they have fun, but they will come back refreshed and more knowledgeable.

  • Feedback and appreciation from non-management roles.  While its nice to get reviewed from time to time from management it is also nice to create a culture where your other staff and patients recognize the value that your employees bring to the table.

How to make it better?

Encourage patients and other staff to leave comments about their visit or interaction with your employees.  Make it a point during meetings to leave time for story telling and acknowledgement.

Need help with questions to ask?  Here are several survey templates with questions that you may use.


2.  Vague job responsibilities/descriptions

It is not  uncommon for a job description that is used for hiring to be only 50 to 75 percent accurate.  So as time goes on and the stress level increases, many staff become frustrated about their ever increasing job duties.  When stress goes up, absenteeism rises and people start taking “sick days” off to get better.

According to a survey by CCH Inc. , unscheduled absences cost employers an average of $602 a year/employee.

How to make it better?

One way to combat absences is using a system of accurate and up-to-date job descriptions written by the employees themselves, said John King, president of the Indiana Roster Network of CPAs and professional-services firms. “When employees create their own job description, they feel more in control, which can reduce stress and the associated costs of burnout and casual absenteeism,”

The process also tends to point out inequities that may be hidden in the organizational structure, which creates the entitlement mentality that leads employees to play hooky. The process of creating these job descriptions also opens doors for honest communications between workers and their managers.


 3. Lack of continued education

Many times employees feel trapped at their current job role, with no room for advancement.  This is really evident among front office staff at medical practices, and one of the key drivers for employees wanting to quit and do work somewhere new.


Helping your employees with their continuing training can seem costly – in money and in time. Remember, however, it can be less costly in the long run to retain an existing employee than to hire a new one. If training will help you retain more employees, it will prove itself a prudent investment in your practice.

How to make it better?

    • Make education a priority with your staff, include a section on the employee newsletter about classes offered at the local college.
    • Provide tuition reimbursement –  There’s no surer way to show your support than by putting your money where your mouth is. Footing all or some of the bill will lessen the burden on your employees and assure them that you want them to be knowledgeable and successful. You’ll need to decide on a few details about tuition reimbursement, including:
      1. Which types of classes will you reimburse employees for completing?
      2. Will you pay tuition only, or will you pay for books and class expenses as well?
      3. What percentage of your employees’ educational cost will you reimburse? The more you pay, the more valuable the benefit will be to your employees. Bear in mind, though, they may put forth more effort in the classroom when they pay for a portion of the cost.
      4. Which employees are eligible? Is this benefit only for salaried employees or for hourly employees as well?

      Provide in-house training – It may be in your best interest to consider creating your own curriculum, specific to your business. That way, you will be assured that your employees are receiving training in the exact areas in which you need them to be competent. You can hire trainers to come in and teach particular topics. Alternatively, you can appoint your senior staff to teach company-specific skills to the rest of your organization. Having an existing company-specific curriculum will also make training new hires easier, because they’ll learn precisely what they need to be up to speed more quickly.

      Regardless of how it’s implemented, supporting your employees’ continuing education is investing in the people who ARE your company. Your business may benefit from a more well-educated and proficient workforce who know that top management supports their efforts to develop and grow.  Thanks to Nevadasmallbusiness.com for snippet. 


4. Being underpaid

There is no doubt if you were to ask a question to your staff if they would like to be paid more the answer would be a resounding “YES!”.  Proper incentives can be a powerful motivator, helps reduce employee churn, and can elicit specific performance outcomes if done correctly.

So how do you increase everyone’s pay without breaking the bank?

Let’s say you wish to increase the amount of patients that come in from 20 a day to 30.   Provide  your office manager with an incentive where they can earn a % of the revenue if they help drive traffic through your door with social media, outreach, events, and more (31 ways to market your medical or dental practice)

Be sure to clearly delineate the exact responsibilities the staff member is responsible for.  “Growing a program” is sort of nebulous; make sure there are specific duties that are helping to bring about program growth.  You and this person can sit down and create a plan of action together.

Group Goals

Another great way to incentive the entire team to work harder, is not to just provide a standard bonus with vague goals ever year near the holidays, but to motivate with a profit-sharing plan.

Profit sharing – Generally, there are two types of profit-sharing plans. The first consists of giving employees monthly or yearly bonuses. For example, let’s say that your business adopts an end-of-year profit-sharing plan in which you’ll split 15% of gross profits among employees at the end of the year.

This would likely be given in the form of a check, much like a regular bonus check. You could also add a monthly profit-sharing bonus to employees’ base salary, much like a sales commission. Whatever bonus employees receive will count toward their taxable income.

The second profit-sharing method for small businesses to adopt is a type of employee retirement plan, which you can set up through your bank.

Basically, you decide upon a fixed yearly amount to contribute to your employees’ account—and unlike other money purchasing plans, you have the option not to contribute if, for example, your business ends up in the red one year. In 2013, you may contribute up to 25% of an employees’ total compensation, not exceeding $51,000. As an added bonus to your employees, they won’t be taxed on the money until they withdraw it.

5. Old Software and equipment 

Doctors are notoriously bad at software and hardware.  So much so that I was even asked one time during my consulting days what a web-browser was.   So its safe to say that when you hire people between the ages of 21 to 35 you had better have the latest and greatest technologies to run your business or they will get frustrated and quit.

windows outdated

We have complied a short list of great solutions for your staff.   Great thing is most will save you money as well.

Best healthcare applications and hardware tips:

    • Upgrade computers – Upgrade slow and antiquated computers and add a 2nd monitor  This will increase office efficiency by up to 50 percent or more – Read “When Was the Last Time You Gave Your Practice a “Checkup” to solve this problem
    • Referral management / physician outreach – The fax machine is alive and well in healthcare.  But its time to change that, there is a new modern way to track and monetize your referral network called  referralMD.  The top benefits are that it will save your staff multiple hours each day, make their jobs much easier by allowing them to track every detail in real-time (never losing a referral), and save you money in the process.
    • Access to Clinical Content and Drug information – Epocrates is a tool for physicians, nurses, physician assistants, EMTs, even police officers, who need clinical content, drug information and dosing calculator. Drug side effects and interactions and pill ID features prevent adverse drug effects, and Epocrates is being integrated into some medical school curriculums.
    • Update Windows software and Internet Explorer – Did you know that Internet Explorer 6 and Windows XP are no longer supported – Meaning that they have vulnerabilities that can lead to your office getting hacked, viruses etc.  Major HIPAA violations can cost you everything, including  your freedom. Upgrade ASAP.


6. Feeling overworked

Here is an interesting infographic from Column Five in conjunction with employee wellness company Keas about employee being overworked. (Note that you may be the problem)

Consequences of ignoring these signs can be major — 66% of employees suffer from stress-induced health issues, including but not limited to high blood pressure, headaches, sleeplessness and more frequent periods of sickness. Overworked employees are also more likely to have drastically decreased productivity and play hooky than those who are satisfied with their workload.

How to to make it better?

    • Work from home – Let staff catch up with paperwork/email or manage your social media and outreach activities from home a few times a month.
    • Flex schedules – On days that the patient load is lite, allow for staff to go home early and complete their work in a relaxing environment.
    • Day off – Reward  your staff for  a job well done with an occasional day off.

overworked-employees infographic

7.  Lack of Fun!

Even the best companies to work for according to the list from CNNMoney, like Google, Zappos, etc have their moments.  Employees get bored of their jobs, and want a change of pace.  So how do you make it fun without effecting productivity.

How to make it better?

    • Team volunteering – Choose a cause and get everyone out of the office for a day and give back, nothing better then helping out and making a difference.
    • Change of Scenery – Tired of the boring meetings in the office, get outside with some bagels, go to the park and get some sun.  This is specially nice for those that get stuck on the bottom floor of the hospital with no light all day. Everyone needs some vitamin D!
    • Office Makeover – New colors, plants, healthy snacks can make a dreary office that much more fun to work in.
    • Think Tank – Let  your team brainstorm ideas on what they want to do, nothing worse then the boss coming up with ideas and not letting anyone contribute.  During your next meeting ask your staff what they would like to do for fun, and implement it right away!


What’s your thoughts, have any great ideas you would like to share?

Leave a short comment below.

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