Try These Budget-Friendly Ways to Motivate Your Staff

Employees value many things as much as  maybe even more than the amount of money you pay them. Respect, recognition, and pride in what they do are basic but powerful motivators. Here are some no-cost, low-cost ways to help your staff bloom.

  • Create a mission statement and display it. It could be something like: "We aim to provide the best (specialty) health care for our patients with a positive, friendly attitude and attention to detail in every aspect of running the practice." A mission statement gives everyone in the practice a shared purpose and a context for how to perform.
  • Create an employee handbook. Putting policies in writing about time off, dress code, attendance, benefits, and more helps assure employees you are treating them fairly, and communicates your expectations up front.
  • Review staff performance regularly. Employees like to know where they stand, how they can improve their performance, and how you will support them in meeting their employment goals. The reviews can be informal, and you should end them on a positive note. You might ask each employee to come to the evaluation with a list of personal goals and accomplishments, and suggestions for the practice.
  • Do lunch. Treat each employee to a one-on-one lunch annually as a way to get to know each person better on a personal level. Don't talk business. Then later on, remember to ask them about some of the things you talked about. (How does your daughter like high school? Did you finally get your car fixed?)
  • Have an open-door policy. Employees need to know you care about their concerns and are interested in their suggestions. Give them a listen, and follow up. Sometimes just listening while they vent frustrations can help them deal the daily stress of their job.
  • Encourage continuing education. Pay for them and/or give them paid time off to listen to webinars, attend seminars, or take other courses that will help your practice. In some cases, you may want to pay for their dues in professional organizations.
  • Cross-train staff members. Cross-training helps employees see the bigger picture of how your practice operates. It also makes you more flexible in being able to grant employees time off, knowing another staff member can fill in.
  • Set attainable goals, and reward their accomplishment. The reward can be as simple as praise for an individual at the next staff meeting, a $10 gift card, or the privilege of displaying a special "job well done" object on the employee's desk for the week.
  • Recognize achievement. When an employee improves in job performance or goes beyond the call of duty, say "thanks" or "great job" to that person directly. If you have a newsletter or website, you could add a kudo when appropriate. If an employee does something that saves you a lot of money, consider a monetary reward.
  • Give employees some discretion. For example, one physician lets his employees make financial decisions, like which new answering machine to buy, up to a certain dollar limit.
  • Involve employees in decisionmaking. Ask for, and follow, their advice. Let them know they are part of the team and their opinions count.
  • Act with integrity. You set the tone for your practice. When you are known for taking the high road, you instill in employees a sense pride in your organization.
  • Give employees time off to volunteer. Many employees will view an hour off here and there to, say, deliver meals to the elderly or tutor a child as a valuable employee benefit that enables them to give back and build ties in the community. You might ask them to wear a nametag or T-shirt that identifies them as a representative of your practice.
  • Be a good communicator. Let employees know what's going on in the practice, why you made certain decisions, what your practice goals are, and the like. It's another way to make them part of the team and give them context for their work.

Remember, too, that in today's multigenerational workforce, not all employees are driven by the same needs at the same time. Try to understand what motivates employees so you can help them reach their fullest potential. 

 If you need help with managing, recruiting, or training staff, contact TMA Practice Consulting for help. Also, take advantage of TMA's new, fully customizable Employee Handbook for Medical Practices, written by TMA practice management associate Megan Odell. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in health care administration and a master's degree in health care human resources. She is a member of the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance, Inc. and is a certified HIPAA compliance officer.

Published Oct. 24, 2013



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