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    Successful practices treat employees fairly, including compensation

    Q: Even though we're supposedly facing a tight economy, there's still competition to attract and retain quality employees, particularly in the area of compensation. How can we create a compensation system that doesn't overpay but offers workers a competitive salary and benefits package?

    Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS
    A: It's true. Despite the economic challenges over the past few years, the medical industry still faces a shortage of good practice personnel, including office managers, billing staff, and coding professionals. Much like baseball teams, practices have scrambled to fill these positions and, in some cases, have paid high rates for mediocre talent or have granted promotions or pay increases to those staffers who make the most noise, causing morale problems and even defection among existing employees.

    To be successful, a practice must treat its employees fairly and consistently, starting with compensation. All employees must believe they are being paid equitably, compared with both the market and their colleagues. An effective compensation system should provide a complete, accurate picture of what your practice provides an employee in total compensation—salary, healthcare benefits, vacation and sick time, taxes, insurance and retirement benefits, and other perks.

    Next, use your employee job descriptions and the titles associated with them to perform an objective assessment of the current pay rates assigned to each staff member. Then create a master table of pay rates by listing each job title in the left column, the current pay rate in the next column, the hire date (for the current position) in the next, and the date of the last pay raise. Review the table for issues, such as employees not receiving recent raises or a large spread between the highest- and lowest-paid people in a category.

    Answers to readers' questions were provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, managing director of SS&G Healthcare Services LLC, Akron, Ohio. Send your practice management questions to
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