Every practice should develop clearly written personnel procedures and policies that address theft
It is estimated that approximately one in six physicians will be victims of embezzlement at least once during their lifetime. This may be due to the trusting nature of physicians, a lack of business training about separating duties in transactions involving money, or employees’ feeling overworked, underpaid, and/or underappreciated.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 30 percent of business failures are directly related to employee theft, and embezzlement may be the hardest event any business owner can face. Sympathy abounds when a business suffers a fire, natural disaster or the death of a partner. But being taken advantage of by someone you’ve trusted leaves you feeling betrayed and gullible. Victims of embezzlement often say things such as “But we trusted him completely” or “She was like a family member.”
The best protection is prevention
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that one in every 32 adults has a criminal record. A recent report from ADP Screening and Selection Services found that 44 percent of applicants lied about their work histories, 41 percent lied about their education and 23 percent falsified credentials or licenses. Likewise, ResumeDoctor.com found that 42.7 percent of résumés have significant inaccuracies.
This is why it’s so important to perform a background check on all potential employees, which includes a credit check and a criminal-record check on all employees who will handle money.
It’s also important that you value your employees and make sure they know it. Be sure your employees are paid at competitive wage levels. To get an idea of what the current pay standards are, survey local offices yearly or refer to the ophthalmic practice payroll benchmarks.
Provide usual and customary benefits for your locale. Employees who have pay and perks comparable to area norms may be less likely to feel they deserve more than they’re getting and will be less like to “help themselves.” Be familiar with your state’s labor laws regarding exempt versus non-exempt employees, and pay overtime in accordance with your state law.
Show appreciation with sincere compliments, surprise treats, or schedule parties or team-building events that include both physicians and staff.
Every practice should develop written personnel procedures and policies. Clearly written policies and codes of conduct help imprint behavior requirements in the minds of employees. These rules should clearly state that stealing from the company is grounds for termination.
Discuss your practice’s overhead expenses in general terms and how they continue to increase. Staff who only see revenue coming in may have no concept of the cost of doing business and thus have an inflated idea of how much a physician actually takes home.