When a doctor provides “incentive” (motivation, sincere appreciation or rewards) for positive behavior (e.g., task(s) well done), it actually encourages employees to strive to repeat that performance/behavior. This is the kind of positive cycle every employer should want to create. In speaking with assistants and doctors all over the country, my overall experience is that incentive has more influence or power than one might realize in terms of effectiveness/productivity and if a doctor does not provide some type of incentive, they are not only shortchanging a good worker, but they’re missing the boat on maximizing their employees performance potential.
Types of Incentives
Aside from genuine appreciation, I don’t necessarily think one type is more effective over another. We are all different types of people and therefore, every one of us is motivated by different things. I think, in this respect, it’s important that doctors make an effort to get to KNOW their staff well enough to recognize what is most appealing for them and then build on that. Keep in mind that incentives do NOT have to be big. Most times, it’s the little things or the “unexpected” things that mean the most.
While money is one way to compensate one’s work (and many employers still believe it’s the only thing that matters), it is clearly not the end-all be-all to job satisfaction. Sources of employee satisfaction come from quality of work, the ability to be challenged and have room to grow and learn, the ability to be creative, having pride in what they do and actually being in a work environment that meets both their physical and social needs. Incentive does not necessarily present itself in the shape of a dollar sign. It’s about being appreciated; being respected, the simple awareness and acknowledgement of daily accomplishments, or hearing a friendly “good morning” and “thank you.” Other types of incentives to consider may include spot bonuses, sick and/or vacation days, personal days, birthday or anniversary day off, a personal, handwritten note for an outstanding achievement or the old standbys…SEP IRA contributions or group profit sharing plan.
Resultant Staff Productivity
Empower them to take on new responsibilities. Establish new realistic practice goals, monitor the progress made towards reaching them and reward their successes. Compliment them on work performed, include them in practice decisions and suggestions, teach them how to operate new equipment and help them to develop an appreciation for each other’s duties within the office by perhaps occasionally having them participate in temporary role reversals. It’s quite eye-opening!
Stop the Staff Door From Spinning Out of Control
Staff incentives can lead to job longevity with the help of a few simple acts (that cost absolutely nothing!): Treat them fairly, be kind, and say “thank you” every night when they leave the office. Support their growth within the office AND the profession, listen to their concerns and suggestions, praise their work, trust and have faith in them and don’t reprimand, ridicule them or criticize them in front of patients. Have a sense of humor, respect their opinions, allow flexibility (when necessary) to leave for personal matters; don’t MICROMANAGE their work, and most importantly, treat them like an equal and not just an “employee.”
When employees love what they do, can feel comfortable and enthusiastic in their environment, are well-managed, appreciate the people they work with and feel appreciated in return, work never really feels like WORK. It’s that simple. Be the manager they WANT to stay with, and they will.
Happy New Year!
Ms. Homisak, President of SOS Healthcare & Management Solutions, has a Certificate in Human Resource Studies from Cornell University School of Industry and Labor Relations. She is the 2010 recipient of Podiatry Management’s Lifetime Achievement Award and recently inducted into the PM Hall of Fame. Lynn is also an Editorial Advisor for Podiatry Management Magazine and recognized nationwide as a speaker, writer and expert in staff and human resource management.