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The DUMB Files: Employee hours

Feb. 12, 2018
When he didn't check employee hours regularly, Dr. Salierno had an office manager who regularly rounded up her hours. Make sure you aren't a victim of time theft.
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Welcome to another installment of The DUMB Files, where DUMB stands for "didn't understand my business." I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a practice owner, and I want to share some of them with you here.

There are a lot of numbers you have to pay attention to as a dentist business owner: KPIs (like new patient numbers), bills, your checking account . . . it can be easy to lose track of them from time to time. One set of numbers I ignored for a long time was team hours. That was pretty dumb, since employees make up the largest part of our overhead.

There are a couple of considerations here. First, we must make sure that our team members are logging in their hours correctly. Fortunately, timeclocks are a ubiquitous feature in practice management software, so you don’t have to go out and buy one of those old-timey punch card machines. Now I don’t have the time to review every minute of every time report for my team; that’s not the point. We can periodically look at the time report and make sure that nothing looks odd. For example, if an employee forgets to clock in, then they will be able to edit their hours afterwards, which is fine. However, if you see on a time report that an employee is routinely editing his or her hours, then that’s a red flag for potential abuse.

Second, once the hours are correctly logged in, they must be reported to the payroll company correctly. Who calls in your payroll? If you’re doing it yourself, then you’re good to go. If you delegate this to someone else, then you’ll want to make sure that there’s no funny business going on.

Once upon a time, I did not check team hours. I had an office manager who fudged her hours on the time clock pretty regularly, then she rounded them up significantly when she reported them to the payroll company. That’s what we call time theft. She wasn’t stealing money from the cash drawer, but she was still stealing.

There’s an old Russian proverb: “trust, but verify.” I trust my team members to accurately record and report their hours. It’s rare to find someone being dishonest. It’s more common to find simple mistakes. You can trust your team, but verify with a quick and simple review process.




I am DUMB, and here’s why . . .
Ignoring patient experiences

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.
About the Author

Chris Salierno, DDS | Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the chief editor of Dental Economics and the editorial director of the Principles of Practice Management and Group Practice and DSO Digest e-newsletters. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. He maintains a blog to answer patient questions at ToothQuest. Dr. Salierno maintains a private general practice in Melville, New York. You may contact him at [email protected].

Updated Dec. 4, 2020