“Honestly communicating expectations and concerns is the basis for good internal policy, procedure and morale,” Ms. Young continues. “If you have an employee who you truly believe is taking advantage, discuss it with them. Explain your take on it; they may not even realize what they are doing is actually theft of time.”
You Might Also Like
Also By This Author
The bottom line: Implement policies and procedures that are fair to you and the employee, consistently enforce them, follow your own policies and procedures (lead by example), and make sure employees understand your expectations.
Dr. Arnold advises running a practice very efficiently and employing only the number of staff you really need.
Occasional breaks are healthy, and you should encourage them. “Managers should keep in mind that employees need to take breaks, including a lunch break, to refresh,” Mr. Hussain says. “Nobody can go full steam ahead for hours at a time without seeing their performance suffer. Quick breaks, from going for a walk or chatting with a co-worker at the water cooler, can give people time to recharge and increase camaraderie, creativity and productivity.”
Ms. Amundson does not believe in babysitting every employee’s working minute. “I think employees are more engaged when they have control over their time,” she says.
A morning and afternoon break of 15 minutes and a 30–60 minute lunch break should be enough time to tend to personal tasks that are distracting the employee. She also supports being flexible when possible. “Allow an employee to come in early or stay late if she needs time during the day for personal activities as long as the office’s and patient’s needs are met.”
Similarly, make sure your team members are taking vacations. “People need these breaks to help them recharge,” Mr. Hussain says. “They also lead to better work-life balance and job satisfaction.”
Dr. Arnold is very clear that she wants employees to take appropriate breaks and lunch time, and encourages them to take vacations. “It’s healthy, and helps them to be fully participatory when at work,” she says.
The bottom line is that most employees want to do well and don’t willfully waste time to hurt their organization, Mr. Hussain says. Use their strengths as best you can, communicate expectations, give them enough to do (but not too much), encourage breaks and appreciate them, and there’s a good chance you can avoid going down the road of disciplinary action.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.