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Dear HR Lady




I am a small business with three employees. Do I have to obtain workers compensation insurance?


Technically, Florida law only requires non-construction employers with four or more employees (owners included in that headcount) to obtain workers compensation insurance.

Even though you believe the biggest injury may be a papercut, you will be surprised how easy it is to trip and fall over a box of copy paper or acquire wrist or back pain, even in an administrative function. Strains and sprains are actually the top 30 percent of worker injuries according the Insurance Journal and the top causes of injuries are material handling at 32 percent and slips, trips and falls at 16 percent. So, what does this mean for you? Even though the law does not require workers compensation insurance for small businesses under five employees, this does not mean you are still not responsible and face major risk of financial ruin. The good news is for administrative functions, workers compensation insurance is not very expensive, and owners can exclude themselves. Call your local broker for further advice.


I am having a really hard time retaining employees. We have a great family culture here, however, I simply cannot afford to compete with the bigger firms in regard to pay. What advice do you have?


Contrary to popular belief, pay is not the highest motivator for most employees. A Gallup survey reports that 1 in 2 employees leave to get away from their manager. They were miserable at work which followed them home and simply made their life unsatisfying. The most important thing to understand is that employees leave managers, not companies. If you are a small company with only one manager (you), then you may be part of the problem. Should you care about improving employee satisfaction? Yes! Why? Because satisfied employees are productive employees and productive employees positively affect the bottom line. Employees want these items in no particular order:

  1. Clear communication. "What are your expectations of me so that I can meet them?"
  2. Support of employee's strengths. "Bashing me about my weakness is not going to change them."
  3. "I would like to come to you to discuss challenges at work rather than hide them from you due to fear."

One side note, as a small business you can offer your employees benefits that may not even cost you a penny. Consider flexible work hours, working from home, bringing pets to work, bringing children to work, voluntary benefits that employees pay for but can only get through an employer pay deduction, monthly educational "lunch and learns" provided by vendors and of course complimentary medical care for staff and family members.


As the business manager of a medical practice, I cannot get the doctor to understand that his direct and abrupt personality is offensive to our team and some of our patients, too. He just says they need to get over it. How can I get through to him?


His personality style responds to facts not emotions, so show him the data and stop focusing on emotions. His behavior may have affected the bottom line. If you are losing staff and/or losing repeat patients, this has a major impact on revenue growth and of course on company profit. Gather information on how much it costs to replace an employee including costs of advertising, drug tests and background screenings. Remember that time is money, therefore you will also need to estimate the number of hours each person spends on reviewing resumes, doing phone interviews, conducting in person interviews, completing new hire paperwork and orientation and then all the hours every person on the team has to take to train the new hire. If hourly, non-exempt staff are involved, do not forget to add overtime numbers. Also, calculate how much of that time could have been used dealing with patients and refer to that as "lost time or lost profit." A person only changes when they want to. If your doctor is bottom line motivated, this may be a great time to educate him on understanding personality styles and the effect on a business. When he is ready, call BlackRain Partners for coaching.


All of our employees have been with us for at least 10 years each and are over 55 years of age. While most of our patients seem to really connect with our team, we are trying to hire younger individuals to bring in new skills and prepare for our current team's retirement. Unfortunately, our new hires leave within a few weeks of starting. No matter who we hire, I feel I need to "cut the tension with a knife." What are we doing wrong?


First, congratulations for recognizing the need for age diversity in your medical practice. For the first time in history we have five generations in the economy. In your practice, your patients may include all of these generations: Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials/ Generation Y and Generation Z. While it is important for your patients to connect with your team due to their age, it is more important for your team members to understand that different generations communicate differently and are motivated by different things. The issue you are experiencing with younger generations leaving your practice is probably due to communication challenges amongst your team. Baby Boomers and older Generation Xers tend to tell people what to do with the expectation that there will be no questions asked because that is how it used to be. Often, they may also believe that "if it is not broken, we do not need to fix it." Younger Generation Xers and Millennials question everything as they want to know why things are done in order to understand the end goal, and even improve processes to become more efficient. This simple difference in communication styles and motivations may not sit well with current or incoming staff, with frustrations being noticeable by all and causing major tension in the workplace. Educating your staff to understand all generations, particularly their communication styles and what motivates them will help your retention rate. Additionally, being clear about the company vision for the next ten years is no longer optional. Millennials demand knowing: where are we going so I can help get you there. They also want to know how they will fit in. If you do not know where the company is headed, Millennials will struggle to stay engaged. Old ways will not bring new results.

Wendy Sellers, MHR, MHA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, "The HR Lady" is the COO of BlackRain Partners, a business consulting company.

She is a Master of Health Care Administration, a Master of Human Resources, SHRM-SCP and SPHR certifications and is also a licensed Florida 2-15 life and health agent which she uses solely to advise and educate BlackRain's clients.


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