Motivation Takes More Than Money
According to the 2012 PayScale survey of thousands of small, medium, and large employers, compensation based on performance is clearly becoming the standard. In fact, nearly 70% of those companies that plan to increase compensation are doing so to reward excellent performance. The days of earning more simply because another year has ticked by are over. The primary reason cited for adjusting compensation is to retain quality staff.
While the trend is good news for those of us who have long touted merit pay, it doesn’t mean that dental offices across the country are prepared to increase compensation. In fact, many continue to struggle to chisel off the cement shoes of the recession and still face lower patient visit numbers, lower collections, and reduced insurance programs. That being said, it is still vital to retain a quality team - and one of the best ways to do that is with an employee recognition program.
If you’ve let your employee rewards and retention efforts slip during the past few years, it’s time to revisit those and ensure that your practice can retain quality employees. Certainly, compensation is important and if your current economic situation allows, it may be time to look at the numbers and determine if the practice can handle compensation increases. More on that later.First, for virtually all quality employees, the satisfaction of a job well done, a problem patient handled with finesse and grace, a never wavering commitment to providing excellent service, etc. is rewarding. That being said, having their hard work, dedication, and loyalty actually acknowledged by their employer is all the better.
In general, dentists, like many employers, tend to think about thanking and recognizing their employees around the Holidays. The gifts, the parties, the bonuses are doled out. Everyone celebrates and then the doctor retreats to the operatories and the staff members resume their respective positions around the office. Keep the momentum of good cheer and good will going throughout the year, and it will pay huge dividends in retaining quality staff.
Summer is an excellent time to rev up your recognition program. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect opportunity to establish it. A well constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives. Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals. Be sure to ask for input from the team and involve them in designing the program. You want to know what motivates them to excel. If they are instrumental in creating the program, they will appreciate the recognition all the more. Additionally, it’s important to establish a budget. This encourages creativity and underscores the fact that recognition need not be synonymous with bonuses or high-dollar gifts.
A few points to consider: Praise employees immediately. Don’t wait for the “right time.” The right time is right now. On the spot rewards in the form of $5 or $10 gift cards can be ideal for encouraging the doctor to recognize excellence immediately. Be specific about the details. Generic praise is, well, generic. But if you know the employee handled a particular situation well, give specifics; it reinforces the behavior you want with the others as well. The program should be flexible, so that bigger rewards can be tailored toward the specific interests of the employee(s) recognized.
Some may greatly appreciate the opportunity for continuing education or additional training on equipment. In fact, according to the PayScale survey, when it comes to rewarding high performing employees, continuing education opportunities were a commonly preferred perk. Additionally, time off, be it an afternoon or an extra hour, is universally appreciated by virtually all employees.
Make the effort to find out what the employees will enjoy and/or appreciate. It will ensure that the program achieves its intended purpose - motivation, recognition, and achievement of overall practice goals. And while you’re at it, make it your practice protocol to say “thank you” often to your team and your patients. It costs nothing and is appreciated by all.
Next week, is it realistic to consider a raise?
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Where Are My Patients Today?
Have you experienced this scenario? You had a good night’s sleep, a short run in the morning and you are all keyed up to start your Monday off with a bang. You gather your team together for the morning meeting, and only then do you see that you have no patients until 11am, and only one in the afternoon. “What happened to my schedule?” you ask. Your Schedule Coordinator has the “deer in the headlights” look on her face. Suddenly, you feel depressed and start thinking this is the beginning of the end.Now you and I both know that the phones will keep ringing and your patients will keep coming - but just not on this day! What needed to happen after the morning meeting adjourned?
First Plan of Attack
Second Plan of Attack
Please don’t call it the ASAP List and definitely not the Cancellation List. A “Priority List” sounds much more friendly and important. I want to be on someone’s Priority List. Start contacting patients on this list that would be a good fit for the openings that have been created. “Mrs. Jones, you asked that I contact you if we had a change in our schedule. I am happy to inform you that Dr. Smith can see you this morning at 11:00.”
Third Plan of Attack
Fourth Plan of Attack
Note: If patients are not scheduled off of these lists, the lists may not be current. Always double-check to make sure that the treatment has not already been either scheduled or completed before calling.
Fifth Plan of Attack
It is vital to always enter your contact notes in the computer regarding any attempts to contact a patient about an appointment. It is also important to view the notes prior to placing the call to be sure that someone else hasn’t placed the same call recently. This step saves time and embarrassment. Have you ever had a patient say: “Someone just called me yesterday about this. I told them I was going to wait until the summer.”
No doctor or hygienist enjoys seeing their schedule fall apart, but it is reassuring to know that your Schedule and Hygiene Coordinator are doing everything in their power to replace those missing patients. It is also very helpful to have a clinical person who has finished stocking the rooms, taken inventory, tidied up sterilization and completed other clinical tasks to assist in the “attack.”
Train all of your employees on how to make these phone calls and use proper scripts. When necessary, everyone can man their battleships and win the war on last minute cancellations!Forward this article to a friend.
Employee Office Manual Needs Updating
“My dental assistant carries her phone in the scrub jacket and texts when I leave the treatment room, texts in the lab and whenever there is a moment when I am not around. What should I do?”Dr. Textnomore
Dear Dr. Textnomore,
Is your employee clocking out to text? Is the employee texting during a qualified break period? Is there an office policy in regard to texting, emailing or surfing the net in your employee office manual? If you said no to any of the above, then it is time to update that employee policy manual to reflect changes in technology, HIPAA and OSHA and any other changes that have taken place in your office.Many practices have an employee office manual and think they are covered, even though it was created up to fifteen or even twenty years ago and newer critical issues are not included in the existing manual. There are different sources available to help create a new or update an existing policy manual. This information varies from state to state, so it is important to get legal advice particular to your practice location. Mike Moore, Esq. can customize a human resource policy for you and is recommended by McKenzie Management. With more than twenty years’ experience as an attorney representing employees in discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination suits against some of the largest corporations in the country, he brings a wealth of knowledge gained by this experience to add value to the policy manuals that he creates for the dentist client.
A second source, the ADA provides an updated informational guide for creating an employee office manual and provides samples and basic information. Legal counsel is recommended to make sure your policy meets with state and federal guidelines for employee laws.
In the current hiring market, practices must be diligent with keeping employee files accurate. Background checks for employees that will have access to sensitive patient information, drugs or prescription forms are rare in dental offices for fear of crossing into legislative privacy mandates. Credit checks, background checks and checking references for employees handling money in the dental practice is being recommended due to the higher incidences of employee embezzlement. According to results from a survey conducted by Susan Gunn, CFE, a professional fraud investigator for dental practices, “A majority of survey respondents admitted no background or reference-checking was done prior to hiring the employee.” An embezzler can be territorial, work long hours and will only take a vacation when no one else is in the office. Job descriptions could state that dental assistants will be cross-trained to post a payment to accounts and schedule appointments so that the possibility of having a different set of eyes on the accounts is there, thus eliminating territorial front office behavior.
Having an Authorization, Waiver and Release of Liability for Employment-Related Investigations for the potential employee to sign will help eliminate a potential embezzler from your practice. Again, this form will have to be approved by legal counsel and represent state and federal mandates. The cost of prevention is cheap when you consider what could happen not only to your bottom line but the cost of the emotional agony of having been betrayed. This form would be included in your employee office manual as a requirement before finalizing the job application.
A national outcry over “bullying” or harassment has caught the attention of many people who will file claims relating to being “forced” out of a job by fear caused by harassment. In the employee policy manual a “harassment policy” needs to reflect the current terminology and a remedy to ensure the safety of the victim of harassment.
The use of cellphones, texting and office computers must be included in the update of the employee policy manual. The office computers must be password protected so that each person must log in and log off. Office computers are not to be used for any personal use and that includes break time, lunch time or after hours. Cell phones must be turned off during office work hours and can be checked at scheduled break times only and not in areas where patients can see or hear that a personal conversation is taking place. The office phone can be available for staff to receive emergency calls during patient hours.
To learn how to set up your office systems for smooth, stress reduced operations, call McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 and take a Front Office, Office Management or CEO dental training course.Forward this article to a friend.
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