If you have recently purchased a dental practice or have launched a startup, you may have postponed drafting an internal policy manual. It is important that you provide clear guidance and leadership early on in your dental practice. A policy manual delineates clear expectations for office conduct and professionalism, all necessary ingredients for practice success.
Writing a policy manual might seem like a daunting task, but it really only requires that you formally document the expectations you have probably already expressed verbally to your staff. Start with these basic policy tips and branch out from there to cover polices unique to your leadership style and routine.
- Appearance and Dress. Because standards of dress are subjective and vary from person to person, standardize expectations with a dress code policy. Stress the importance of professionalism, but also explain to your staff that the point of the policy is to promote team unity and a consistent appearance, not to downplay individuality. Make clear whether staff are permitted to wear jewelry, show tattoos or piercings, and wear certain kinds of makeup.
- Vacations. List the days when the office will be closed for special holidays and provide a chart of time off allowances for both full- and part-time employees. Have a section relating to sick leave and maternity, as well.
- Social Media. It is a good idea to have a policy in place dictating what sorts of information staff are allowed to post online in social media outlets. You cannot allow staff to post anything regarding patients that might violate confidentiality. You should also specify whether staff are allowed to check their social media during work hours.
- HIPAA and OSHA. Regulations pertaining to HIPAA and OSHA must be prominently displayed in the office at all times. Staff should know that violating regulations and standard practices may result in penalties.
- Staff Evaluations. Determine when staff will receive formal evaluation and feedback. Staff will appreciate knowing whether they are meeting expectations or require improvement. Standards of evaluation will differ among the types of employees, so make it clear what each staff member will be evaluated for.
When you have completed your dental practice policy manual, it is a good idea to have your attorney review it for possible legal complications. They will be able to confirm that you are within your rights as an employer and have not violated any workplace discrimination laws.
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