It's the Holidays - Time to Thank Your Team... or Not
This time of year, with the holidays lurking just around the corner, some dentists are getting nervous. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a few to ask me, “What’s the point of the holiday party? Isn’t it just another unnecessary expense? The employees come to work. I give them their paychecks. If they are doing things reasonably well, I leave them alone. Why do I have to deliver some sort of fanfare just because it’s the holidays?”
I pity the dentists who are reluctant to celebrate practice accomplishments even once a year, yet I would be willing to bet that in their current practice culture, there’s little to celebrate anyway. These would be the offices that habitually struggle. There is little if anything in the way of ongoing employee recognition or rewards. Consequently, almost without exception, these are the practices filled with mediocre teams and chronic staff turnover. These dentists line their employment ranks with individuals that are looking for little more than a paycheck. They will show up for work, at least for now, until something better comes along.
Yet, the paycheck is but a small sliver of a much larger employer/employee relationship that is built over time and nurtured through trust, mutual respect, and commitment to practice goals, values, and objectives. An essential, yet often overlooked, component in the development of that relationship is a program of ongoing staff recognition and rewards that goes well beyond an obligatory annual holiday party.
Let me rephrase the opening question - what’s the point of staff recognition and rewards? Read on.
Businesses that recognize their people outperform those that don’t by 30-40%. Nothing drives profitability more during a poor economy than employees who are engaged, happy, and committed to doing their best, particularly in a service-related profession like dentistry. Some of you may say, “My employees know I value and appreciate them. I don’t need any kind of special program.” Well, consider this little fact: A Gallup poll found that 82% of employees say that the recognition or praise they receive at work motivates them to improve their performance.
Recognition means more than sputtering the words “Great Job” or “Thanks” on occasion. Acknowledging excellence means making the recognition truly meaningful. And recognition that is given as close to the event or action as possible proves to be one of the most effective motivators employers have available to them at absolutely no cost. According to the book “Turn Best Practices into Common Practices with On-the-Spot Recognition” by Louise Anderson, “Spontaneous, on-the-spot recognition is highly motivating. It provides immediate positive feedback while building a strong, positive culture based on respect, recognition, and a dedication to excellence.”
Use the opportunity to tell employees how their actions reflect positively on the practice and the team, and why they are important in helping the practice move toward its goals and objectives. In other words, what this employee accomplishes has a direct impact on the success of the total practice, and they need to know that. Ultimately, the goal is to create a culture of ongoing recognition and acknowledgement. Let’s face it, when we are told we are doing a good job, that we are appreciated, and that we are an important part of the business, we become more vested in the success of the business as a whole.
Rewards are personal expressions of your gratitude. Certainly, the holidays provide an opportunity for you to acknowledge your employees’ hard work and dedication. But now is not the time for you to “make up” for a year’s worth of working through lunch, disregarding your staff’s personal lives, or being generally rude and disrespectful to your team. The annual holiday party does not excuse you from regularly demonstrating your appreciation to the team that ensures your success throughout the entire year. Rather, the holidays merely cap off a rewards and recognition program that you should be following from January 1 through December 31.
Next week, the many ways in which you can show your appreciation.
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