Everything The CEO Optometrist Needs To Know About HR – Part 2 – How To Implement It

Human resources is probably one of the more complicated aspects of running a small business. The complexities of working with people don’t fit nicely on a spreadsheet. Yet HR is incredibly important; employee salaries and benefits make up a huge chunk of your operating expenses.

Your employees are one of your greatest assets. You must protect and manage that asset.

In part 1 of this blog post, I gave you an overview of what HR is and why it’s important for your practice.  Now in part 2, I will show you how to implement it in your practice. I will also give you links to tools you can use to create your own manual. Ready! Let’s get started!


A Quick Recap – What Is Human Resource Management?

Human Resource Management (HRM) deals with your employees, whether in regards to recruitment, management, or other forms of direction and assistance. HR will often be in charge of (among other things):

  • Hiring
  • Performance management and reviews
  • Employee development, motivation, and training
  • Safety and wellness
  • Benefits
  • Communication between employees and/or management

HR carries a big responsibility. They have a huge effect on the culture and environment in your practice, setting the tone for how employees communicate, settle disputes, and work with each other. Some small businesses prefer to outsource a large component of human resources, but there is no getting around human resources completely.


Human Resources: The Three Basics

HR is filled with laws and regulations, which is part of why practice owners often put off dealing with it. Generally, for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, there are three basic things you must implement to cover the bases, according to HR expert Jack Hayhow.


1. Employee Files

You must keep three specific files for each employee in your practice. These files are:

  • I-9 File: This form is used by the U.S. Government to identify and verify that your employees are eligible to work in the U.S. Keep all of your employee I-9 files together, in one file, instead of under individual employee names.
  • Employee General File: This is a file you create for your own benefit. It contains any documentation associated with that employee that you’ve collected during their time with you. This includes resumes, reviews, disciplinary action, training verification, evaluations, W-4 forms, payroll details, and so on. You’ll use this file often.
  • Employee Medical File: These files will contain notes from doctors, disability information, and any medical information that you have on an employee. Because you are dealing with medical information, you must protect and secure these files from others to be compliant with HIPAA laws. That is why these are separate from general files. Be sure to keep them in a locked and secure place.


2. Employee Handbook

Having an employee handbook is a must. Your handbook serves two important purposes: letting your employees know what you expect of them, and protecting your practice in case there is a dispute.

An employee handbook can be as simple or as complex as you want, but there are some general approaches, depending upon the nature of your business, that you need to consider. According to the Small Business Administration, your handbook should cover the following 7 areas:

  • Non-Disclosure Agreement: Some practices will benefit from having employees sign non-disclosure agreements. If you have trade secrets to protect, this is an important document to have.
  • Anti-Discrimination Policies: If your business is in the U.S., discuss how you will comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as with other employment discrimination laws.
  • Safety and Security: Lay out your policies on how you will keep employees feeling safe at work, both physically and emotionally. U.S. businesses should discuss compliance with OSHA, as well as your own policies on bad weather and emergency situations, video surveillance, and so on. You should also include what you expect from your employees in this regard, including using passwords on computers, locking doors, using mobile devices to take photos of co-workers or in the office and publishing those photos online, or reporting threatening behavior.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Define the benefits that you provide your employees, both those required by law and others that are unique to your practice. Let them know how to receive the benefits, and what is required of them. Outline salary or compensation levels, and what it takes to get there.
  • Work Schedules, Vacation, and Leave: Outline your practices’s policy on schedules, absences, lateness, vacation and leave, absenteeism, special requests, and so on. If you allow telecommuting, indicate clearly what is acceptable. Even if you have a “flexible” work schedule, you need to write down any expectations you have of your employees.
  • Standards of Conduct: This might include dress code, behavior, online and computer use during work hours, use of mobile devices during work hours, ethics, legal aspects, and other similar topics. Outline the repercussions of breaking the standard of conduct so employees see it in writing. This is necessary if an issue arises later.
  • General Employment Information: Your practice will have its own policies and procedures apart from what the law requires. Clearly define what your policies are on work ethic, promotions, employee reviews, termination, referrals, employee records, and so on.


Be sure your employee has received a copy, reads it, and signs a statement acknowledging that they received, read, and understand the employee handbook. Put that statement in their file. Make a copy of the handbook, either digital or paper, readily available to all employees for reference when they need it.


3. Display Required Posters

Depending on the laws of the country and/or state your practice is in, you may be required to post information in an easily accessible place. These vary from place to place, so you will want to work with a local government agency or legal counsel to make sure you have met the requirements. There are also companies that provide packets of posters depending upon your location to help make this process easier.



Having your human resources program and policies in order as early as possible sets you up to deal with the inevitable problems that arise as your practice grows. Employee complaints, legal issues, and clear communication all depend on your HR department to sort things out.

There is a lot more to learn when it comes to HR. For more advanced HR reading, check our the following articles on the web – HR best practicestalent managementemployee experience, and HR innovation

I hope you found value in this article and will come back for part 3 next week. You will definitely want to check it out.  In it, I’m going to tell you the 5 Human Resources mistakes you need to avoid.  So, stay tuned!

If you are reading this and you’re thinking, “Lauretta, this all sounds great. But I need help putting my manual together. I don’t want to do this alone.”  If that’s you, then I’ve got good news for you.  In my CEO of YOU™ consulting program for private practices, I do help you create a custom employee manual for your practice.  So, if you need help, sign up for my consulting program today.

Until next time, remember to Dream Big, Take Risks and Become the CEO of YOU™!

Want to take your practice to the next level? Sign up for the CEO of YOU™ Consulting program for private Optometry practices.