Is Your Optometry Practice’s Employee Handbook Out of Date?
Having an updated employee handbook is critical to keeping your optometry practice current and helps your employees thrive in your practice’s environment.
Why You Need an Employee Handbook
An employee handbook is a collection of your practice’s employee policies, practice procedures, the working conditions at your practice, and behavioral expectations for your employees. The basic reason you need an employee handbook is that your employees need to know your practice’s expectations and procedures, which allows your employees to work as a team and communicate with the same values, goals, and practice mission. With the same rules for everyone, running your optometry practice is easier, because you can refer to the handbook if a question about policies arises. Written policies encourage good morale when expectations are clear.
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Tailoring Your Handbook to Your Practice
Your optometry practice’s handbook should be the guidelines for your employees and anyone in your practice. These guidelines should make your practice organized, safe for employees and employers, and safe for your patients. You should include:
Employee handbooks usually include information about the practice, such as the practice’s vision, mission, purpose, values, and goals. The handbook may include a welcome letter from the employer. Your practice's commitment to your employees should also be in the handbook to welcome employees and create a team environment.
The expectations in your optometry practice’s employee handbook define your practice environment and culture. A handbook may include your attendance expectations, cover the use of practice property, and define employee roles, such as nonexempt and exempt employees. If you use non-compete, non-disclosure, and employee confidentiality agreements, you should include them in the handbook.
- Health and Emergency Procedures
An updated handbook should include your practice’s rules about keeping employees safe and healthy. For example, what to do during severe weather closings should be stated in your handbook. Emerging safety and health situations, such as COVID-19 protocols, are essential to update in your handbook.
- Federal and State Guidelines
Following federal and state guidelines protects your practice. For example, in your optometry practice’s employee handbook, your policies and procedures may include information about federal policies, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These are necessary to keep compliance with regulations and keep your employees informed about new expectations outside your practice.
- Compensation and Benefits
You should include information about compensation and benefits in your handbook. Include information about paid time off and any other conditions of employment in your practice.
- Why You Need to Review and Revise Your Employee Handbook
An employee handbook is not a stagnant document. Technology, medicine, and culture outside your practice are ever-changing, and along with these changes, the laws and procedures affecting your practice change. The work world is more diverse than ever, and practices should adapt to diversity to create a better practice environment and a more welcoming one for your patients. New needs for adaptive protocols in managing a safe practice emerge, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Revising your practice handbook keeps your employees, patients, and practice safely.
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Employee Handbooks in Optometry Practices
A general handbook is good for most practices, but you may want to be more specific as an optometry practice as to what to include in your handbook. Practice-specific handbook documentation creates an effective and safe practice environment. With HR for Health , you can manage this more easily. Some medical specific considerations for your handbook are
A good starting point is what work attire you expect for the practice environment. Expecting your employees to dress professionally is reasonable in an optometry practice. However, as a practice, you may not discriminate regarding religious attire. An HR professional can tell you which federal and state laws apply to your practice when it comes to workplace attire.
- Daily Opening and Closing Procedures
Upon opening, your practice should follow a routine that all employees understand. Employees should know who is responsible for opening and closing each day, who has which responsibilities, and what procedures to use at opening and closing.
For example, when you create an employee handbook, you could designate who is responsible for taking and relaying messages when the practice opens each day. With HR for Health , such tasks are much easier to establish and engage with.
- Patient Confidentiality
Keeping patient information confidential is essential for any medical practice, including optometry. Your employee handbook should emphasize how keeping patient information is paramount for the practice. The handbook should describe policies and procedures for confidentiality, as well as the technology used for patient data-keeping.
- Practice Organization
Organization for your optometry handbook depends on the extent of your practice. Your practice may have several associate doctors with procedures and policies specific to associate doctor roles. If you have a larger practice, be aware of your organizational needs and separate policies for different staff types.
- Employee Benefits and Perks
Your optometry practice may have benefits unique to your practice, such as vision benefits you provide for your employees. Tracking these practice-specific benefits is easy with HR for Health . This software tracks benefits balances for employees in real-time from wherever they are working.
- Team Training Requirements
For your practice, you need to train your employees to keep up with the documentation from your handbook, as well as required certifications. HR for Health includes a certification tracker for training like sexual harassment and diversity. The software also has a documents section not visible to employees for storing confidential resources.
Optometrist Code of Conduct, Ethics, and Values
As an optometry practice, you should have a code of conduct, ethics, and values. Including these in your employee handbook can help guide your employees to better care for patients.
The American Optometry Association has an ethical code of conduct that is useful to include in your revised handbook.
The oath includes an affirmation that the health of the patient is foremost, a promise to serve diverse populations with compassion and respect, and a promise to seek to promote by action and example. The code includes the requirements that doctors of optometry maintain their practices as professional health care practitioners, to promote ethical and cordial relationships with other health care professionals, and their obligation to protect society’s health and welfare.
During the revision of your optometry handbook, you should have an HR or legal professional review of the handbook. An HR or legal professional can spot errors and legal pitfalls in the document.
How HR for Health Can Help
HR for Health helps optometry practices get a comprehensive and customized handbook that fits the practice. We stay on top of legal updates and keep our clients informed, so they can maintain an up-to-date handbook each year. Contact HR for Health for more information.