Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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The solution? However you choose to monitor employee inter- net usage, do so consistently, and create a clear written policy. If you don't provide the pol- icy, employees could have justification for a breach-of-privacy lawsuit. If you decide to monitor, what are your options? Some practices may install site-blocking software on all office computers or use software that limits the time some- one can browse a non-work-related site. What about texting? Should em- ployees be allowed to text during work hours? Again, a clear written policy is crucial so employees know what is and isn't acceptable. When crafting the policy, consider context rather than making all-encompassing rules. Having an employee ask her child to text when he is home from school is a different situation from an employee who texts about party plans when he should be helping with an agitated patient. Cyberbullying and Harassment A serious downside to the internet is on- line harassment and cyberbullying, and that unfortunately can take place among co-workers. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think what is crucial is a clear written policy about how online harassment and cyberbullying will not be tolerated. The statement should clearly de- fine what you mean by harassment and bullying, and it should note that examples given in the policy do not constitute the full range of behaviors that fall into these two categories. Share the consequenc- es, up to and including termination, if the policies are not followed. Consider working with your entire practice team to develop a values statement so employees can play a role in its formation. Besides creating a useful statement, if you sit in on the meeting, you can likely identify people who are less likely to abide by it. If you notice higher turnover, be vigilant in watching for bullying behaviors and, when identified, deal with offenders firmly. Also watch out for behaviors and state- ments that are presented as jokes. People who don't find them funny should not be told that they have no sense of humor and that they need to lighten up. If someone reports bullying or harassing behaviors — ones occur- ring to that person or to someone else — take the accounts seriously. Slow down, listen and respond accordingly. Also consider which resources need to be offered to people being bullied or harassed, from stress-management strategies to counseling services. These are three of the more common legal issues connected to internet use in the workplace. Use this article as your starting point and remember to create necessary policies and procedures, and then update them as internet technolo- gy evolves. Also watch for informa- tion about cases where boundaries of, say, cyberbullying are adjudicat- ed in the courtroom. H.R. Huddle columnist Dr. Charlotte Lacroix is founder and CEO of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. She serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. Come Browse Our Shelves at NAVC.com/Bookstore A convenient online shopping experience for all of your veterinary reference and educational needs. Get 10% off your first order! Use promo code FIRST10 at checkout. Employees want privacy in their internet use, whereas the practice wants to make sure that work time is well spent.

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