Here’s your guide to recruiting and retaining the right staff for your practice.
Managing a medical practice, like any small business, takes time and effort. When things go wrong it can take your attention away from your core role and what you do best – the practise of medicine. It makes sense to get it right from the outset, especially when you are looking to recruit suitable people to help you run your practice.
Here are some practical, yet simple, steps to help you with the recruitment process.
What job do you want the person to do? What tasks will they need to undertake? What are the key responsibilities? What skills and abilities do they need to perform the role? What qualifications or experience is required? If it is an existing role, is the old position description outdated and in need of updating?
Consider the type of employment you require for this role. That is, whether it is a full-time, part-time, or casual position. What hours are needed to perform the role? Do you need the employee to work on an ongoing, temporary, or as needed basis?
At this point, you should also identify the correct classification for the role under any applicable Modern Award (or enterprise agreement). In the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010 and Nurses Award 2010 the classification definitions are set out in Schedule B. The classification will determine the minimum rate of pay for the role. Selecting the correct classification and meeting the minimum rate of pay is ultimately your (the employer’s) responsibility.
How do you intend to attract candidates to your role? A popular form of advertising is via online employment sites, such as Seek, Indeed and CareerOne, to name a few. These sites allow you to upload your own text for a digital advertisement and in some cases manage responses from candidates. You may also like to consider other means of advertising, such as the local newspaper, community notice boards, personal referral or head hunting.
When advertising your role, use the position description to help outline the requirements of the role including your expectations of previous experience and the nature of employment (full time, part time or casual).
Once you have a shortlist of potential candidates, we recommend you conduct interviews with each applicant to assess their suitability for the role. Prepare for the interview by scripting a set of questions to get a sense of their skills/abilities, past experience and whether they would be a good fit for your business. The same set of questions should be asked of all candidates to ensure equity in your recruitment process. Take care not to ask any questions that may be considered discriminatory. Your questions should focus on the requirements of the role. You may like to review our recent article in the May/June edition of The NSW Doctor, ‘Avoiding Discrimination in Job Interviews’.
Prior to making an offer of employment, you may wish to check the references of your preferred candidate. Generally speaking, a verbal reference is preferable to a written one. A verbal reference allows you to ask questions of the candidate’s previous employer that relate specifically to the role you are recruiting for. Again, it is a good idea to develop a script or standard set of questions when conducting a reference check. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about skill level, areas for improvement or particular points of concern; however, be mindful that questions relate to the applicant’s ability to do the job and not their personal characteristics.
Although there is no legal obligation to have a written contract of employment, having one in place is likely to minimise any future disagreement between you and your employee. An employment contract will usually set out the terms and conditions of the employment offer, including the type of employment (permanent, casual, fixed term etc), hours of work, rate of pay, as well as the Modern Award that the employee is covered by. AMA (NSW) provides template contracts of employment for members, which can be accessed by logging onto the AMA (NSW) website. (If you need any assistance with the template contracts, contact the Professional Services team on email@example.com).
Make sure your employee returns a signed copy of the employment contract, ideally before their commencement date, and keep the copy for future reference.
All new employees must be provided with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement before (or as soon as possible after) they start their new job. This statement provides employees with information about conditions of employment, including the National Employment Standards (NES), Modern Awards, right to request flexible work arrangements, freedom of association and workplace rights, as well as the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Commission. You can read further information about the statement and access a copy on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.
Set your new employee up for success by providing a thorough induction. Before commencement pre-arrange access to IT systems and order any new equipment required. Welcome them with a tour of your office space ensuring you meet your Work Health and Safety obligations along the way. Introduce them to other employees and familiarise them with any policies or procedures applicable to your practice.
It’s a good idea to prepare an induction checklist and/or training schedule, which can be shared with the employee – there’s a lot to remember in those first few weeks. A proper induction will also give you the chance to give an overview of your business and explain your expectations of the role. It’s also a good opportunity for new employees to ask questions. An employee who feels included and well informed is more likely to be engaged in the business.
Don’t set and forget! Meet with new employees on a regular basis. Check in on how they are going. Do they need any additional resources or training? Are they settling in ok? Ensure they are aware of your expectations. Are those expectations being met? Don’t wait to raise concerns. These are best raised quickly during the probation or minimum employment period. When you meet with an employee, make a point of setting a time for a follow up whether it be in the form of a formal meeting or a casual catch up.
You would be surprised by how many workplace issues could have been avoided if only employers had taken the time to get it right up front. It is sensible to invest some time and effort at the outset to increase your chances of employing the right people in the right roles – after all, these people are often the face of your practice and the backbone of your business.
Looking for additional resources? The Fair Work Ombudsman website provides various resources including best practice guides to hiring new employees plus templates for job advertisements, conducting reference checks and induction checklists.
Disclaimer: The views and information provided in these articles are of a general nature only and do not constitute legal advice. It is not tailored for your particular circumstances. If you would like specific assistance with issues raised in the article, please contact our professional services team on firstname.lastname@example.org. If we are unable to provide specific advice or legal services to you directly (or to do so within your desired timeframes), we would be happy to refer you to appropriate external providers. In that regard, AMA (NSW) has relationships with preferred providers who will generally provide a free initial consultation to our members.