There are countless research studies that confirm what every experienced manager knows: Happy employees are productive employees. It’s a given that employers must offer competitive wages and benefits to attract highly qualified employees, but workplace culture keeps them and improves the bottom line. In the medical billing and coding industry, creating a motivated and fulfilling workplace environment is a particular challenge.
Medical billing and coding requires consummate attention to detail, knowledge of complex medical terminology and ability to navigate electronic medical records. There is also the stress of continuous learning to keep pace with rapidly changing payer, legal and Federal and state government regulations. Burnout and boredom are commonplace, compounded by physical office settings consisting primarily of “cube farms.”
According to Gallup, high performing employees have three things in common: Talent, high engagement, and 10+ years of service within the company. Our company, Practicefirst, has been in the medical coding and billing business for over 50 years. In an industry where turnover is high, the average tenure of our coding and billing specialists is a healthy six years.
Practicefirst successfully attracts and retains long-term employees by following three guiding principles:
1. Saying “please” and “thank you” often.
A study by Boston Consulting Group of over 200,000 workers worldwide found that the most important factor to most people is a simple desire: appreciation for their work. Feeling valued and appreciated are critical elements to employee happiness and retention. Being courteous, showing genuine appreciation and publicly recognizing employees should be on every manager’s to-do list.
2. Encouraging collaboration.
Collaboration in the workplace is when two or more people work together through idea sharing and brainstorming to accomplish a common goal. At Practicefirst, our common goal is to achieve the highest allowable reimbursement for our clients in the shortest amount of time.
The rules, regulations and process to accomplish this goal are complex and ever-changing. By encouraging employees to ask questions of one another, share technical knowledge and work together to solve problems, teamwork is taken to a higher level and productivity thrives.
A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found companies that promoted collaborative working arrangements are five times as likely to be high performing. Want to build a productive and loyal workforce? Encourage employees to collaborate with one another.
3. Living our corporate values.
It’s one thing to have corporate values, it’s another thing to embrace and embody them. Every morning when our billers and coders walk through the door, the first thing they see are the Practicefirst values displayed on a large poster: Integrity, Trust, Professionalism and Dedication. These values guide our decision making and how we treat one another.
We refer to our values often, and keep them at the forefront of our company culture. When faced with big decisions such as acquisitions and changes to employee benefits, or less significant decisions such as an early end to work day when faced with blizzard conditions (we are in Buffalo, after all!), our corporate values are there to guide us.
When building a highly qualified billing and coding workforce, compensation still matters—but it’s not the only priority to employees. A company culture that demonstrates appreciation for its employees, encourages collaboration and embodies its values will yield a productive workforce and a healthy bottom line.
Thomas Maher, CPA, CPC
President and CEO
Practicefirst Medical Management Solutions, LLC