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By providing employees non-traditional incentives, you open up the door to a much happier and relaxed working environment.
Aetna has recently announced that it is going to pay its employees to sleep, as part of an incentive program. It will boost productivity in the workplace, they say, and both parties will benefit. This has me thinking about my own staff, and what non-traditional incentives our medical practice provides them.
Working in a medical billing department all day long is arduous due to the constant battle with payers. It can become a negative environment if not managed properly and if staff are not recognized for their efforts. Thankfully, I have an amazing team who really love what they do. They're funny about it, too, because they think they're "just doing their job." I can attest that they go above and beyond every day. Why, you ask? Because I leave them alone, and get out of their way. A great staff does not need to be micromanaged or even managed. They are independent and reach out to me if they have any questions or need support. The work environment is relaxed and comfortable. If they want to come in wearing yoga pants and a long sweater, that's fine by me. If they want to stop and make a personal call on company time, go right ahead. If I walk in and they're watching a comedian on YouTube, I pull up a chair and laugh with them.
Giving my team the "OK" to step away from the job throughout the day has proven to be an exceptionally effective non-traditional incentive. I know, to the decimal point, what the data is coming out of the billing department, and they are aware of that. They are outstanding in getting their work accomplished, far more than any other people I have worked with. Treating them with the respect which they have earned is key. They make their own decisions and policies for improvement. They are not complacent enough to say, "The process is working fine, it's good enough." They are always looking for ways to improve the process. They are not afraid to try new things, and I encourage them to make mistakes. Yes, I said that. By providing a non-threatening working environment and letting my staff know "It's okay to make a mistake," they are free to create and implement. A lot of really outstanding thoughts and ideas have come from this methodology. If you manage by using fear tactics, you're going to get fear-driven results and unhappy employees.
I understand that not all working environments can support such a lax system as this, and it's taken a few years to really hone this process until it is seamless. And be aware, this is not something that you can implement overnight. But I challenge you to try to find some non-traditional employee incentives for your practice. Ask your staff for some feedback and see where that conversation takes you.