Do you know what job seekers consider MOST important when looking for a job...[drumroll please] 95% said job benefits and perks! Let's be honest, we have all considered this a major factor when deciding the next move in your career.
Many dental practices have various employee benefits and perks, some being: extended health coverage, gym memberships, uniform allowance or discounts off of dental treatment for themselves and immediate family. These are very generous but one of these is more susceptible to being abused, taken advantage of and put you & your practice at risk!
The Sad and Scary Truth About Employee Treatment Discounts
Let me paint you a "real-life" scenario-- Dr. X offered a VERY generous employee benefits program, free dental treatment to his staff and their immediate family members. They would only be responsible for the lab cost! Amazing right?
After some investigation, he discovered that this was being abused! How? Dr. X began to uncover a string of questionable situations: team members claiming a friend of the family, second cousins of cousins were immediate family, others were claiming insurance off of the FULL treatment fee (a.k.a insurance fraud) and others had never paid for the lab bill! Can you imagine how Dr. X felt? Hurt...upset...lost trust or respect for his team. But, how did this happen? Where did it go wrong? How did this generous benefit end up becoming a detriment?
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Let's dig deeper into Dr. X's employee discount policy and read the guidelines. Oh wait... there wasn't one! This office employee discount was a verbal agreement.
Often times with verbal agreements, it leaves room for things to be misinterpreted and can leave yourself exposed and vulnerable. Verbal agreements remind me of the "telephone game," do you remember that or did I just date myself?! One person whispers a message to the person beside them, they, in turn, continue that message until it gets back to the original source. And what happens? It ends up returning back to them as a completely different version! Now, we played this game for fun and would laugh about how different the two messages ended up becoming but your business is NOT a game! Dr. X cannot do anything about all of the lost money or insurance fraud because he has nothing to fall back on to prove that was against office policy.
Implementing an Employee Discount Policy
Here are a few items to consider and include in your Employee Discount Policy:
- Who is Eligible For This Program:
- For example: Are new hires eligible for this right away or after their probationary or evaluation period?
- Do you have different discount levels based on their amount of years of loyalty to your practice?
- For example: for an employee that has worked less than 1 year it is X% off OR for an employee with more than 1 year it goes up to X%
- Will you offer a payment plan for the lab cost?
- Are you expecting full cost upfront? OR can they pay you $100 for X months?
I have been burnt before on this! An employee paid a small portion and only after she left, we discover 75% of the lab bill was still outstanding!
Having employee benefits are a great way to show your team how much you appreciate them! BUT, it needs to be a written policy, implemented effectively and communicated properly! Having a paper trail will help you to avoid these costly mistakes! This policy should be included in your employee handbook or have a stand-alone policy for the team to read, sign and keep a signed copy in their employee file.
If you take anything away from this post it is to have your employee discount program! In that way, if any questions arise, there is a signed policy stating they understood the practice guidelines and you can avoid these HR nightmares!