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Outsourcing provides more benefits, HR expertise
Versatility, flexibility, and the ability to juggle many different responsibilities at once are included the basic job description of any outpatient surgery program manager. As the oversight of outpatient surgery becomes more complicated, many managers turn to outsourcing some human resource-related issues to free their time for other responsibilities.
"I wear so many different hats; I need help making sure that all of the details are handled," explains Barbara Clark, business manager of the Park Place Surgery Center in Maitland, FL. "With an outside company handling the paperwork, I know that payroll is correct and taxes are paid on time."
Quarterly reports that provide details of hours worked, overtime, and other payroll details keep her up-to-date on salary expenses, Clark adds.
Payroll often is the first service that outpatient surgery centers use as they move to outsourcing human resource administration, says Connie L. Koch, national sales manager for HR America, a Wauseon, OH-based company that provides employment-related administration and consultation services. "As the surgery center grows and as the manager sees the value of outsourcing, more services can be added," she says.
Most outpatient surgery centers are small businesses with an average of 20 employees, points out Koch. "Small businesses with between 10 and 80 employees are subject to employment laws, but it is not always practical to hire a human resource professional who can stay on top of compliance issues as well as handle all other human resource activities," she says.
In addition to payroll and compliance, human resource administration firms can handle benefits and retirement plans, and they can serve as a resource if the manager needs advice on a personnel issue, says Koch.
Being able to consult with the outsource representative when she's had sensitive personnel issues such as addressing a problem employee is a huge benefit of outsourcing, says Clark. "Because I'm in a small surgery center, there really is no one else within the facility with personnel expertise," she says.
Her outsource representative talked her through the discipline process and made sure that she documented all actions properly to avoid any problems in the future if the employee is terminated, Clark explains. "It helps to have someone with a lot of knowledge and access to other resources available to help me," she adds.
Different ways to structure outsourcing
There are two ways to outsource human resource administration once you decide to do more than just payroll, says Koch. A professional employer organization (PEO) is a comprehensive approach in which the outsource firm and the outpatient surgery program become co-employers, she says.
"The PEO becomes the employer of record, and the surgery center employees are eligible to participate in the PEO's benefits plans," she says. PEOs offer large group plans so the surgery center can offer a wider range of benefits to employees than possible as a small employer, she adds. "The extra benefits can help attract and keep employees within the surgery program," she explains.
An administrative service organization (ASO) does not have the co-employment aspect of a PEO but offers many of the same benefits and services, says Koch. "An ASO doesn't offer the large group plans, but there is still a wide range of benefits available at a cost-effective level, she says. "Another feature of an ASO that many surgery programs find attractive is the ability to choose services a la carte so the manager and board can customize the program for their center."
Even though an outsourced firm handles human resource administration, the outpatient surgery program does not lose control of its employees in the ASO or PEO, says Koch. "Every program handles hiring, evaluations, training, and firing," she says.
Clark says, "We use our firm to manage payroll, taxes, health benefits, and the 401K program, but I also use their consultation services occasionally if I have questions related to personnel problems or compliance." Other resources are publications such as employee handbooks and personnel policies, she points out. "It's nice not to have to reinvent something that already exists," Clark adds. Clark's firm does provide handbooks and policies if needed and can refer her to appropriate training sources, she says.
Costs for human resource outsourcing are determined by a number of factors such as staff size, payroll, type of benefits to be administered, and other services chosen by the program, explains Koch. "Administrative fees can be flat rate or a percentage of payroll, so when looking for a firm, be sure you understand how fees are set," she suggests. "There may also be setup fees for some services such as 401K plans."
When choosing an administrative outsource firm, look for a firm that views your relationship as a team effort, suggests Clark. "The first firm I used did not assign one representative to my account, so I felt like I had to explain who I was every time I called," she says. "Now I have one representative who knows all about my center and my account, so I know I am getting the best assistance I can get."
For more information about outsourcing human resource administrative services, contact:
Firms that offer comprehensive human resource administrative services to surgery centers include: