Managing Staff Vacations

Episode 053

Do you allow your staff to work when you are on vacation? How much vacation do you give your staff? Paid holidays? Check out this week’s episode of the Business of Dentistry to hear my take on these topics and more.

More About This Show

This episode was recorded while I was completing my reserve drill weekend from the Naval Station Great Lakes in Great Lakes, Illinois. Because I was on leave and out of the office, it raised the topic for today’s show: staff vacation.

In the past, I’ve kept the office open when I was out. I didn’t make my staff take a vacation when I did, but now I do. I wanted to talk about this so you can understand why I’ve changed my policies, and you can take a look at your own staff vacation procedure.

As part of the expense of staffing, paying out vacation makes a pretty big impact on our bottom line.  Personally, I give 6 paid holidays a year. If someone has been on staff for under 3 years, they also get two weeks paid vacation after their first six months. For employees who have been in the practice for over three years, they get three weeks (or 15 business days).

I do that to give more to the folks who are loyal. And I don’t take more than three weeks myself so I don’t offer more than that for my staff.

Today I go down to a skeleton crew when I am out: I have one front office person and one clinical person who stay in the office. I do that so if someone has an insurance or scheduling schedule question there is someone in the office who can do help them. And if someone has a clinical question or needs a post-op there is also someone in the office to address those needs (although it’s pretty rare that this happens).

So I keep two people in the office when I’m not there. The rest of the staff can use their paid vacation days on those days when I am out, or they can take unpaid leave. It’s gone over pretty well, for the most part.

The biggest difficulty I have had is planning my vacations and my time off. I’m not great at planning out too far in advance. I’m a vacation martyr and am not always good about taking time off! However my staff is now prompting me: they want to know when I will be out of the office so they can plan their vacation days and/or unpaid leave around my dates.

Since we’re talking about vacation days, we also have to touch on the subject of holidays. As I said earlier, my practice gives six paid holidays a year. Those holidays specifically are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. When those holidays fall on a weekend – as they do this year – we usually take the following day off. However this created some issues. In the past, I had people who would call in sick to extend their holiday.

I was frustrated by this so I created a new policy. I told the staff that if they didn’t have approved vacation for the day before the holiday or the day after, they won’t get that holiday as a paid day of work. That cut the absences down to almost nil!

As part of that policy, I do allow people to have a paid day if they bring in a doctor’s note. We started this particular policy about three years ago, and despite a little push back, eventually everyone came around.

On today’s show I’ll also talk about what to do with accrued vacation, and why we prorate vacation days in our office now.

After you listen in, I’d love to hear from you! Email me or leave a comment here, let me know if you want a Facebook group for all the listeners of this show. And feel free to reach out with feedback and/or topics you’d like me to cover on this show! Thank you for tuning in and being a part of episode 53 of the Business of Dentistry.

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