Staff Gratitude and Staff Attitude
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Well, isn’t it a relief! Finally, the holidays are nearly over. All that staff appreciation, patient appreciation, everybody appreciation stuff is done, and off the to-do list. And for another 365 days you don’t have to even think about spending another dime to show your appreciation, your gratitude, or your thanks to another soul. Everyone on staff received his or her crate of handpicked oranges, maybe a little holiday green, and a full lunch hour to accommodate the annual celebration. They’re happy, even if they don’t really act like it, and they know just how special they are for another 12 months. Yessirree, that alone is reason enough to toast a New Year!
It would be anyway, if the whole appreciation thing were that simple and you really could wrap up a year’s worth of gratitude and hand it out annually and be done with it. Unfortunately, no one seems to really appreciate your efforts to show appreciation. And you’re wondering why? If your idea of thanking the staff is a perfunctory exercise that you undertake once a year, it’s no wonder they lobbed the oranges like hand grenades at your new BMW. Next year, save the produce for the juicer and protect both the Beemer and your pride.
I’ve got a plan in which your gratitude will pay off big in staff attitude. What’s more it’s practically FREE(practically, but not completely). You don’t have to spend a dime; however, you will have to invest your time. “Time? Who has time”?, you say. You’ll have more of it than you want if you don’t take a little to demonstrate to those who directly affect your success or failure that you sincerely value their contribution to your team.
First, consider what we know about most dental employees. Number one: they crave appreciation and recognition for a job well done, on a daily basis, not an annual basis. Acknowledgement and recognition from the supervisor is cited commonly as the primary staff motivator.
Financially, it costs you nothing, yet staff recognition has the potential to yield tremendous return in both job satisfaction and subsequent production improvement for the practice. 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. Yes, there is a lot to be said for making people feel valued.
While there is a place for gifts, avoid the temptation to give everyone the same thing – crates of oranges, bottles of wine, book club memberships, whatever. In addition, consider spreading the gifts out throughout the year. There’s no rule that says you have to spend a fortune and give gifts during the holidays.
Consider recognizing a different employee each month. You could choose their birthday or anniversary month. During this time, you write the employee a personal note recognizing their accomplishments and their dedication to the practice. Read it to the entire team at the staff meeting. In addition, you give them a personal gift that reflects their interests. For example, a gift certificate to the running store for your marathon-running employee, spa day for the maxed-out mom in your office, tickets to the theatre for your performing arts lover, etc.
The beauty of this approach is that it allows you to recognize each employee individually, without putting a serious strain on the end-of-year budget. Everyone has their opportunity to feel valued for their individual contribution.
In addition to personal gifts, professional perks are widely appreciated as well including opportunities to receive training, paying dues for professional organization memberships, and subscriptions to professional journals. Not only does it demonstrate to the employee that you value their contribution to your team, you want to help them excel in what they do.
Next week, eliminate the end of year appreciation burden entirely.
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