Over the last two weeks I have been discussing employee satisfaction, and how to diagnose a problem. Today I want to go a little further into ways to boost morale in your clinic. Some people get hung up on the details of “oh my, what is this going to cost me?” so I would like to give you simple solutions that are very easy to implement, cost little to nothing, and will have a big effect on your team.
First here is a review of the ways to boost morale that I have covered:
Increased recognition: Develop a recognition program, such as an “employee of the month” or “employee of the week” program with some sort of plaque or certificate, maybe an up-close parking space or a gift card to a favorite coffee shop, or maybe a “Shining Star Award” (give out star lapel pins to add to name badges). The money spent on the recognition is far less important than the recognition itself.
Evaluate job duties: Ensure that each employee is challenged but not overwhelmed, even if it means re-evaluating what a particular job titles matching job duties are.
Develop skills: No matter how big or small your staff, make sure your employees are receiving training in their job duty areas. These could be online classes on customer service, coding and reimbursement classes, continuing education sessions, or a mentoring program. Learning new things and new ways are exciting!
Foster a positive work environment: Make sure the leadership positions in your clinic are demonstrating a genuine positivity; a positive energy in the clinic will work miracles for morale.
Encourage social connections: Have a group lunch picnic or a Friday afternoon happy hour or other team-building activities to encourage social connections in your clinic. People who feel they belong to group or a team are more satisfied and more productive.
Here are more ways to make your staff shine with pride:
Change it up: Allow your staff (within the boundaries of patient safety and comfort) to change up their positions. If you are following my advice, your staff is cross-trained for all jobs in the clinic so this should not slow down productivity too much. It may also help to choose a day with a light schedule for this activity. So for one day, ask the staff to draw a new position out of a hat, and let them try it on for a clinic day (or part of a clinic day). This will get them out of the rut of their daily repetitive job duties, and will foster communication and empathy for their fellow staff members. Your team will have more appreciation for their role in the clinic as well as their co-workers. (Note: If you haven’t cross-trained the staff for every position in the clinic, this exercise may seem out of reach. I say, now is your chance! Use this “change it up” activity to begin cross-training your staff. Choose a staff member daily for a week or a month (depending on staff size) to learn another person’s job.)
Have fun: It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities. So try something fun, such as a theme day. In offices where I have implemented this, the patients have as much fun as the staff. Start out with a whole week of themes: hat day, sock day, super hero day, and so on, about once a month. Your theme day could correspond to a holiday, such as “wear as many hearts as you can fit on your person for Valentine’s Day” or even to a lesser-celebrated holiday (e.g., “dress as your favorite inventor for your May theme during National Inventors Month”).
Say thank you: As a leader in the clinic, sit down and write a thank-you card out to each member of the staff, thanking them for specific things they are doing right. You can thank them for their amazing attitude, punctuality, etc. Make sure you write them down in a note or thank you card and give one to each person in the clinic. You could also divide this up by department for larger clinics, because the more specific you can be, the better. (Funny thing about gratitude is it has an amazing effect on the person who gives the thanks, as well as the person who receives it.)
Lunch and learn: Talk to local businesses about coming in during lunch and teaching your staff about something fun during lunch. You could ask your staff about what they are interested in, and try to hit some broad topics they are interested in personally. (I am not talking about drug rep or medical rep “lunch and learns”.) You could have a massage therapy school come in and do chair massages, you could have the local MAC Cosmetics rep come talk about makeup application, the local Cabela’s rep come talk about camping. One of my favorites is to have a local artist or art teacher come out for lunch and do a mini art project with the staff.
Feed them: If all else fails, feed them. This can get expensive with a large office, so if “Bagel Mondays” or “Pizza Fridays” aren’t in the budget, have a monthly, themed Potluck, have the staff each bring a dish (store bought or homemade) to share. Having the staff pitch in often times boost morale more than just buying them pizza because they communicate with each other about what they made/bought and how they made it. (May is National Grapefruit and Kiwi Month, National Salsa Month, and National Potatoes and Limes Month, so you could have fun with any or all of those.)
Whether attitude and morale is in the dumps in your clinic or you need to maintain the current level of happiness, these ideas can get you moving fast. Let me know in the comments which ones you are going to implement.
Do you have a question about a practice management issue in your clinic? Would you like some ideas on how to fix a problem? Submit your anonymous questions to Ask Audrey and I will answer them in a future Practice Notes blog.