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 acknowledge 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?
For more information on this topic and for additional Dental Practice Management info, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.
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