Do You Have to Give Holiday Gifts to Practice Staff?

November 16, 2016

Are you looking for ways to announce the growth of your practice? Is it necessary to give holiday gifts to your staff?

Dear Sue,

Our expanding family practice has recently completed an arduous interviewing and hiring process, and two new primary-care physicians will soon be joining our group. What's the best way to announce this exciting change?

Evolving

Dear Evolving,

Congratulations on your growth! This is a wonderful opportunity to market and build your practice while continuing to serve a loyal patient base.

You'll want to target three separate groups when announcing the addition of two new family doctors: staff, patients, and colleagues. Each group will require a slightly different approach.

Staff: Your employees are probably already aware that you've been on the hunt for help. Now that you've made a firm decision, it's best to share as many details as possible with them as a group. If you don't, gossip and hearsay could skew the facts and cause unnecessary stress.

Begin by calling a meeting with your current staff. Let them know that you've hired two new general practitioners who will be coming on board to help build the practice, while lightening the load by treating current and new patients.

Your team will appreciate information about who the doctors are, when they'll be starting, and how their presence will affect daily routines. Allow time for staff to ask questions and let them know how they can help welcome their new coworkers.

Since this change will alter regular office procedures and scheduling, invite staff to work together to brainstorm new practices and appointment booking strategies that will create a smooth transition.

Before your new colleagues come on board schedule another, more casual, meeting to personally introduce them to your current staff. Provide plenty of time for conversation so everyone will begin to feel comfortable with the upcoming change.

Patients: The next group that needs to be notified about the new doctors is your patients. They'll likely be happy to know that wait times may be shorter and new patients will be welcome to your practice.

If you have an electronic newsletter, active social media feeds, or a blog, distribute a formal announcement through those communication modes. Update your website with photos and biographies of your new colleagues. Share details about any procedural or scheduling changes so patients are prepared. 

Word of mouth is the best way to build your practice and keeping current patients updated will very likely lead to a natural source of new patients. 

Local Colleagues: Your new practitioners will need to build strong referral networks. Alert external colleagues about your growing practice and make introductions whenever you can. Invite the new recruits to accompany you to local meetings and encourage them to join appropriate medical groups.

Ask your administrative and nursing staff to familiarize the doctors with the neighborhood, introduce them to other tenants in your building, and set up meetings with regular pharmaceutical representatives and other providers.

Keep in mind that the new physicians will also have their own medical networks, so clarify if you have any parameters or policies around their continued work with those associates.

Dear Sue,

The festive season is upon us. Am I obligated to give holiday gifts to my staff? If so, what is appropriate?

Unsure

Dear Unsure

Gift giving should always be a choice. A gift that is given out of a sense of obligation is not really a gift at all. It's a guilt trip.

So many things have changed since the days of extravagant gifting at work. Our fluctuating economy, tightening restrictions, and growing diversity have altered the expectations of employees and physicians in most medical practices. That's why it's wise to have an internal gift giving policy that outlines details of what-if anything-is acceptable.

You may decide that a thoughtful, handwritten card is suitable. If you choose to share your enthusiasm for the holiday season by giving modest gifts to your staff, try using The 3 E's as a guide:

Eat: You're almost always safe offering a gift of food, keeping in mind, of course, any allergies or dietary restrictions the recipient may have. A box of lovely chocolates, a selection of teas and coffees, or a basket of snacks, like a variety of cheeses and crackers, are thoughtful and useful offerings.

Experience: Rather than a physical or edible gift, consider giving staff members a shared experience. Something like a team-building event, a staff retreat, or an off-site group celebration can help coworkers bond and refresh their enthusiasm.

Entertain: Gift certificates for books, music, or movies are affordable presents that can easily be personalized. Take note of individual preferences throughout the year so you can give a gift that reflects each person's unique interests.

Sue Jacquesis a professionalism expert who specializes in medical and corporate civility. A veteran forensic medical investigator, Jacques is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant who helps people and practices prosper through professionalism.

 www.TheCivilityCEO.com