Thank your staff - without going broke

December 17, 2009

As December comes to a close, you realize that your practice has survived another year.

As December comes to a close, you realize that your practice has survived another year. It’s been a particularly challenging one with the contracting economy and justifiable concern for the future. Just the same, there is a lot to be thankful for - starting with your loyal and productive staff. They deserve credit for helping you navigate each day efficiently, and giving your patients quality care and service. So just how do you show your staff they are appreciated and reward them without going broke?

First of all, be vocal and communicate meaningfully. Your days are filled with shop talk and most likely focused on patient care and getting out of the office at a decent hour. But remember, your staff is working just as hard as you are, and the only way they will know you appreciate them is through your actions and words.

A sincere thank you means a lot and an occasional perk can go a long way toward making employees happier. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sometimes it is the simple surprises that mean the most. It can be more meaningful to employees to get an unexpected thank you, whether it’s verbal recognition, a small gift, or time off, than to have a formal bonus plan, which often becomes expected and can be perceived as an entitlement rather than a gift.

 

  • If it’s been a particularly tough week and everyone has pulled together to make things happen, why not allow your staff to work out a schedule for the following week that gives everyone an extra hour off with pay (as long as they can figure a way to do this without compromising patient service)?

 

  • Try passing out $10 gift cards for the local bakery or coffee house. Or surprise your staff by bringing in breakfast foods one morning or ordering pizzas for Friday lunch after a long week.

 

  • What about giving the new employee who masters her job in record time recognition for her accomplishment by hosting a special lunch?

 

  • For long-time employees, consider awarding a longevity bonus. A $1,500 bonus at the end of three years of employment is a nice monetary award for an employee, and it won’t break the bank. Instituting a program like this can save your practice money. After all, some experts estimate the cost of replacing an employee to be equal to one year’s salary - when you factor in the time and cost of recruiting, training, and getting the new employee up to speed.

 

  • To determine which token of appreciation appeals to your staff members, get to know what excites each one. For example, try a box of Godiva for your chocolate lovers and an iTunes gift card for your music aficionados.

When you make an honest effort to think about what your employees would appreciate, it really shows that you are sincere and care enough to say thank you for a job well done.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant and author of the popular books “Secrets of the Best Run Practices” and “Take Back Time.” Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., she is a national speaker on healthcare topics. She can be reached at judy@capko.com.