Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    

NMGMA: 10 Minute Takeaway

HR panelists (L-R) Libby Tucker, Keith Dennen and Deborah Tulloss

Addressing the Employee Element

The second Tuesday of each month, practice managers and industry service providers gather for an educational Nashville Medical Group Management Association (NMGMA) meeting at Saint Thomas West Hospital.

The May meeting covered "HR: The Human Element" with an expert human resources panel featuring Keith Dennen, healthcare attorney, Farris Bobango; Libby Tucker, regional HR consultant, Paychex; and Deborah Tulloss, employee experience manager, Heritage Medical Associates. The trio shared insights and fielded audience questions regarding a range of employee situations and issues routinely faced by medical practices.

"HR - we call the heartbeat of any organization because we set the tone," Tulloss began. "The culture is set by the lowest level of performance you allow the company to have."

Tucker agreed, noting the field has expanded far beyond hiring and firing to encompass strategic vision and helping define and deploy the corporate culture, as well as keeping abreast of employment and labor laws. "We're the ones who are going to minimize the risk of the business owner," she said.

Dennen added, "Tennessee is an 'at will' state, meaning you can be fired for any reason at all ... as long as it's not an illegal reason." He noted federal law outlines protected characteristics, which include age, sex, race and religion, among others.

Dennen continued, "Every client I have, the biggest potential problem they have is an employee. Every employee is a potential plaintiff in an EOC lawsuit." In his observation, Dennen added, the inherent regulatory and compliance nature of delivering healthcare has made employees generally more attuned to laws and their own workplace rights than is often found in other, less regulated industries.

Tulloss said Heritage Medical has 14 locations, 140-plus providers and more than 600 employees. In such a large practice, she said it's critical that HR act as an umbrella with the same rules and expectations for all to ensure everyone is treated fairly. "We have to set the expectations globally," she said. "If you really want to get yourself in trouble on the HR spectrum, act on how you feel," Tulloss continued. "HR has nothing to do with feelings. It has to do with the law and what is fair and equitable."

Tucker said it's important to have empathy when an employee has an issue, but the resolution should go back to the practice's written policy. "Blame it on the policy," she added.

Tulloss agreed, and laughingly told the audience of practice managers and administrators, "I'm going to teach you three words that will get you through any HR situation - the first two are 'I understand' and the third one is 'however.'" While the moment was lighthearted, Tulloss said the underlying message was serious when people ask for exceptions to stated policy. "My rule of thumb has always been that if I can't make that same exception for the next 10 people who come through the door, then I shouldn't do it," she explained. "Those who ask for the most exceptions over the next 10 years become the most exceptional problems ... and that's never failed me."

On the flip side, she noted, if an exception to a rule could be made for the next 10 employees, then the underlying policy ... or absence of one ... should be reviewed. For example, her practice recently implemented a policy that reflected the changing work world as technology now allows some employees to work from home.

Dennen added the biggest takeaway should be to have a policy in place and to make sure information is well communicated to all employees. "Too many people download an HR handbook from the internet and don't really even know what's in there," he said.

"Part of the way our laws have been set up is focused on fairness," he continued. You can't grant extra leave to one person because you like them and deny another employee because he gets on your nerves. Dennen said if you have written policies in place, then you at least have the ability to answer why an action was taken or denied if questioned. Ever the attorney, he did note having a written policy doesn't exempt employers from following the law.

That's no easy task, Tucker said, pointing out laws impacting employees and employment frequently change or are added to the complex mix. "We have a team of analysts who do nothing but keep up with the laws," Tucker said of Paychex.

Dennen added, "Trade organizations like NMGMA do a really great job of keeping you up to date on laws and changes."




Related Articles:

Recent Articles

Alexander: Bipartisan Legislation Will Lower What Americans Pay Out of Their Own Pockets for Health Care

The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 contains nearly three dozen proposals from at least 16 Republican, 14 Democrat senators

Read More

If You Build It, They Will Come

Middle Tennessee's healthcare options continue to expand through new construction and facility renovations and additions.

Read More

Lease, Build, Buy, Sell: Finding the Best Fit for Each Medical Practice

When it comes to medical real estate, there is no one 'right' answer for every practice. Instead, experts say it's important to understand all the options before making a decision that impacts individual physicians, the practice ... and ultimately, patients.

Read More

Dr. Jerry Tannenbaum: Redefining, Redesigning Nephrology

Innovative building models and telemedicine mean better care for patients nationwide.

Read More

Wayfinding in Healthcare

With expansions, renovations and additions to healthcare facilities over time, the ability to easily navigate a campus is often lost along the way. Taking time to consider wayfinding can vastly improve the way patients, visitors and staff engage with the environment.

Read More

Building Walls

Steve Ward & Associates prefab headwalls mean more savings, options for healthcare clients.

Read More

LipiFlow®: Advanced Procedure to Treat Meibomian Gland Dysfunction & Chronic Dry Eye

In-office procedure can promote eyelid health and provide relief from dry eye.

Read More

SCALE 2019 Showcases Latest in Aesthetics Medicine

Now in its 14th year, the Music City SCALE Conference broke previous attendance records, with plans for additional growth in 2020.

Read More

Rethinking the Approach to Acne

New options and research have changed the traditional approach to treating acne.

Read More

Financing the Deal

Healthcare investment experts gathered for the Nashville Health Care Council's annual Financing the Deal panel focused on private equity trends and strategies.

Read More

Email Print



Deborah Tulloss, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, HR, Human Resources, Keith Dennen, Libby Tucker, Nashville Medical Group Management Association, NMGMA
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: