Easy Ways to Boost Medical Practice Staff Morale

April 30, 2013

Boosting staff morale doesn't necessarily mean providing higher pay. Sometimes a little recognition and fun goes a long way.

Boosting staff morale doesn't necessarily mean providing higher pay. Sometimes a little recognition and fun goes a long way.

1. Be flexible. Offer employees time off to reward their hard work. An extra vacation day or flexible scheduling, especially around the holidays, is highly appreciated. "Employees will be grateful all year long," says Bob Levoy, a human resources and practice management expert.

2. Party hard. Celebrate a non-standard holiday that the office doesn't typically celebrate, such as Cinco de Mayo (May 5). Incorporate Mexican food, festive attire, and decorations, suggests Rosemarie Nelson, Medical Group Management Association practice consultant.

3. Share sweet treats. Bring in tasty morsels and hand them out to staff just because. One of Physicians Practice's Facebook fans says she shares cupcakes from a local bakery or milkshakes with her colleagues.

4. Encourage development. Provide staff with training and educational opportunities such as organization memberships or a chance to attend seminars, or give them educational materials such as books or magazine subscriptions, says consultant Charlene Mooney of the Halley Consulting Group.

5. Give recognition. Recognize employees for special accomplishments. One way to do this: Give them a giant card signed by the staff with little messages of congratulations, says Delia Meek, a practice manager at a seven-physician hospital-owned clinic in Coshocton, Ohio.

6. Learn favorites. Find your way to staffers' hearts by asking them what special activities, treats, or favors they would like (maybe they prefer healthy snacks to cupcakes!). "Lots of effort goes into party planning, functions, luncheons, and the staff may not be interested at all," says practice consultant Judy Bee. "If you set up a budget and involve the staff in planning things, that helps."

7. Give praise. When praise is due, give it freely. "I try to make sure my 'thank-yous' to the staff outweigh my criticisms," says allergist and immunologist Melinda Rathkopf of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska in Anchorage. "On a good day I walk up [to the front desk] and in front of other staff and patients, thank them for a good day."

8. Have some fun. Create contests with silly prizes such as an ugly sweater contest or an office Olympics (activities could include things like pencil sharpening relays, paper clip tosses, and chair races), says Mooney.

9. Reward creatively. Dole out "beat the traffic" certificates to exceptional staff members, suggests a Facebook fan. They can use them to leave early on a day of their choosing.

10. Include them. "I have found by far the best thing to make the staff happy is to include them in the care [of patients]," says family physician Christopher Tashjian of Western Wisconsin Medical Associates. "Our staff takes great pride in being part of the care and we recognize them when our quality numbers improve."

11. Try to win big. "Pass out scratch off lottery tickets spontaneously to everyone in the middle of an afternoon and watch the excitement when even a two-dollar winner is scratched off," suggests Nelson.

12. Solicit feedback. Ask staff to share their opinions and suggestions regarding challenges and issues your practice is facing. You'll get more staff buy-in that way when solutions are identified, plus you'll get great insight and ideas, says Mooney.

Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Physicians Practice.