How to Keep Your Staff Motivated

April 8, 2011
J. Scott Litton, Jr, MD

Nice weather raises the question: How do we keep our office staff motivated to come to work each day and continue to put in an honest day's work when most would rather be planting flowers, mowing the lawn, and washing the car?

Spring has finally arrived and along with the increased temperatures and pleasant days ahead, the medical practice's office staff can sometimes see the arrival of spring fever.

How do we keep our office staff motivated to come to work each day and continue to put in an honest day's work when most would rather be planting flowers, mowing the lawn and washing the car?

In my practice, our staff is subject to regular incentives for hard work. On days when our office census is high and both nurse practitioners have a full schedule, the employees enjoy a small bonus for their hard work. This is generally paid in terms of a small bonus and most employees will work hard to earn this. Certainly as gas prices continue to rise and the cost of groceries and other routine expenses increase, nothing says thank you like cold hard cash.

Our office staff also can earn additional days of vacation as well when our census stays at full capacity. Of course employees enjoy the extra income that can be earned, but with the additional income comes higher payroll taxes for them and their percentage of take home pay goes down as the bonuses are paid. Sometimes an additional half day or full day of paid vacation can be a good motivator for working hard and giving their best.

In 2008 when the fuel prices peaked, I found that it was necessary to give the employees a small perk in the form of a gas coupon. This small coupon was very well received and helped to ease the strain of the daily commute to and from work. Talk to your accountant about this before putting it into place and make sure you are taking full advantage of the perk as a justifiable business expense. Not only will the employees appreciate it, but it will also allow the physician to give a small bonus that can be free from the additional payroll tax.

One of the offices in our area routinely sends their office staff to a day spa for pedicures and massages. Again, discuss this with your accountant before putting it into action so that it can be justified appropriately. Since the large majority of reception staff and nurses in the typical office are women, most will gladly accept a few hours to the spa and appreciate the gesture.

The methods of adequately rewarding your office staff can vary. Do not forget the importance of letting your employees know that you appreciate their hard work. A well-appreciated employee can boost the success of your practice in terms of providing an even higher level of patient satisfaction. Not only will your employees be happy, but the patients in your practice will see that they are happy and will recommend other people in the community to come to your practice. It is vital that the medical practice shows appreciation to its office staff. Your office staff will be content, they will know that they are appreciated and adequately rewarded for their loyalty and the payoff to the practice will result in an ever stronger word of mouth recommendation. Such a recommendation has been shown to be the most powerful form of advertisement and the value is priceless.

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