These 5 strategies for hiring, training, and retaining optometry staff are critical

Optometry Times JournalDecember digital edition 2022
Volume 14
Issue 12

Your employees are your greatest allies; building a team the right way from the very beginning is the foundation of your success.

How we hire, onboard, and retain staff in our optometric practice has changed dramatically in this new world. We can no longer rely on the methods used 10, 5, or even 2 years ago to attract great staff. If you still do things the way you did before COVID-19, you are probably facing multiple challenges. With use of technology, automation, and a proven 5-step onboarding system that is consistent, you will be able to hire, train, and retain excellent staff.

Your staff is your ally. Well-trained employees will be a pleasure to work with daily and will help serve your patients in the best possible way. Your practice will stand out among competitors if workers are well trained, happy, knowledgeable, and provide an excellent customer experience. This can also turn your practice into a referral powerhouse. When patients are satisfied, they share that experience with family and friends.

If you want to grow your practice and acquire new patients, your staff will play a vital role. Hiring the right individuals, giving them proper training, and implementing strategies for retaining them are essential. This process is not a sprint; it is a marathon. It will require time, energy, and technology that provides automation. Soon, you will be on your way to attracting excellent staff.

Following are some tools and resources to help you navigate the onboarding process like a pro. It is imperative to know your state and federal labor laws to ensure you are not doing anything illegal when hiring. You also want to be clear and transparent when making a job offer, salary offer, or any bonuses. If you promised a raise or bonus after a specific period, make sure you follow through.

Step 1: Job ad, application, and email link for scheduling a phone interview

This step is the most challenging, and sets the foundation for attracting your ideal candidate.

Job ad:

Your job ad should have a detailed description of who and what you are looking for to add to your dream team. When writing the description or ad, speak to the staff member you want to attract. A generic description or ad will speak to many individuals; however, it may not attract your ideal candidate. Be precise and detailed with your job description. Here is an example: “Looking for a reliable, punctual stylist optician with a passion for fashion in all things eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses.”


Today we have technology that allows us to create intake forms and job applications, as well as links to schedule appointments for the day and time you choose, automatically sending email or text notifications and reminders to candidates. Once you set it, you can forget it.

There are many options as far as software and apps that allow you to automate onboarding. Some of these automated systems have free versions that are very robust; Acuity Scheduling, Appointy, Squarespace Scheduling, and Calendly are a few. Remember that paid versions of this software send email and text reminders to candidates to ensure they do not miss the scheduled interview. Technology to help you stay organized and on schedule is essential for onboarding staff.

Take advantage of these software scheduling platforms to create intake forms and job application templates to attach to the email you send your candidates. Consistency is key. All candidates go through the same hiring process. Once candidates have filled out the online template application you created, they can schedule their phone interview at the day and time you have already established with the scheduling software.

Phone interview:

Pay attention during the phone interview. If you are interviewing for a receptionist position, ensure the candidate speaks clearly. The tone they use during their phone interview with you is the same tone they will use when communicating with your patients. Once candidates excel in their phone interview, they are ready for the next step.

Step 2: Email link for an in-person interview

Once the candidate performs well during the first step, they are ready for the in-person interview. In this step, you can create a preset calendar with days and times you are available for interviewing, using the scheduling software. Depending on the software, you can also schedule reminder emails and texts for candidates.

Step 3: Training

We offer our candidates paid 4-hour training. We schedule this training with clusters of 3 to 5 candidates who have excelled in the phone and in-person interviews. Training in groups is efficient and cost-effective. It also creates a sense of urgency to learn processes and procedures quickly and accurately, because candidates feel they are competing for the position.

Step 4: Training implementation

In this step, candidates show how quickly, efficiently, and accurately they can follow the processes and procedures they learned during their training. They also highlight how they interact with patients and staff. If the candidate excelled during training, they move on to the next step.

Step 5: The discovery session

A discovery session is a meeting with the candidate to discover what went well during training, what they (and staff members) discovered—positive and negative—what challenges they faced, and whether they are a good fit for our practice. If all is well, we offer them an employee package.

Retaining your excellent staff

Global data from McKinsey & Company1 state that the top 4 reasons for quitting a job between April 2021 and April 2022 were as follows:

1. 41% of employees quit due to a lack of career development or advancement.

2. 36% quit due to inadequate total compensation or pay.

3. 34% quit due to uncaring and uninspiring leaders. (Hint: You are the leader.)

4. 29% quit due to the lack of meaningful work.

To retain your employees, you must train them well and ensure they feel empowered to do meaningful work. Please ensure you pay them well and offer benefits such as paid time off and flexibility. Lastly, assure them that you have their back as their leader, and they know you care about them.

1. De Smet A, Dowling B, Hancock B, Schaninger B. The great attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools? McKinsey & Company. July 13, 2022. Accessed November 9, 2022.
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