Say "Thank You" Without Breaking the Bank
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Nearly everything you do as a practice owner either adds to or diminishes your team’s belief that you appreciate them or simply consider them to be another rung in your career ladder. The most productive practices and the most successful teams are those that genuinely appreciate each other and demonstrate that appreciation regularly. Staff appreciation isn’t something that “gets done” once a year during the holidays; rather it should simply be a way of life in the workplace, starting with two words.
Thank you. Two simple words that have the greatest impact on your employees, yet they are among the most underused in the day-to-day practice environment. While telling your employees that you appreciate them should be obvious, very few bosses say it enough or are specific enough to have an impact. When you convey your appreciation, be precise. Tell the employee exactly what it is they did that you are recognizing. Better yet, put it in writing. A hand-written personal note expressing your appreciation to an employee can have a huge impact, particularly when it is not expected. It costs nothing for you, but may well be priceless to the employee.
Recognize your employees’ commitment to improving themselves or their passions outside of work as well. If your office manager has been taking night classes to earn her/his business degree, acknowledge her/his efforts. If you have a staff member who routinely volunteers on her/his day off at the local public health clinic that provides free dental care to those in need, recognize her/his good works. If you have team members who are making a significant contribution in their communities, acknowledge them and tell your patients about them. Create a Wall of Fame in the office and on the practice website that calls attention to those things your staff do both in the practice and outside. Not only are they improving your community, their good works further enhance the image of your practice.
If the practice has been going through a stressful time or even if it’s just been a difficult week and your team has stepped up their efforts to deal with the strain, bring in bagels and fruit and post a handwritten note thanking them for their hard work and dedication during these challenging days.
Staff crave appreciation and recognition for a job well done. Given on a regular basis, acknowledgement and recognition from the supervisor has the potential to yield tremendous return in both job satisfaction and subsequent production improvement for the practice. Bottom-line, when employees feel appreciated, they work harder. They produce more. They don’t have to be replaced as often, which in and of itself will save you a fortune. Particularly when you consider that replacing just one employee typically costs three-to-five times their annual salary. They have better relationships with fellow employees and patients, and overall success of the practice is significantly improved.
There is a lot to be said for making people feel valued. It can save you a fortune, yet it costs you virtually nothing. In fact, a 2007 survey of employees revealed that 57% of the most meaningful staff recognition is free and 80% cost $20 or less. But if you want to spend a little something, you can make a big impact with a very small monetary investment. For example, recognize a superior “performance” with movie money. Make the next monthly meeting a “walking ideas” outing in which you spend the afternoon at the park or the zoo and enjoy the outing and share any and every idea for improving the practice.
Recognize individual employees with small gifts that are specific to them and their interests. For example, an i-Tunes card for your employee who likes to complete her daily run with her favorite music, a gift card to the corner gourmet store for the person who loves to cook, a certificate to the craft store for the person who loves to create scrap books.
Your employees are just as aware of the effects of the current economy – perhaps even more so – as you are. They don’t expect you to break the bank on staff rewards, but they would like you to regularly acknowledge their commitment to helping you deliver the best dentistry you can day-after-day.
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