Subheading: Episode 39: Appropriate Appreciation for Your Fabulous Team
Today, we’re diving into a subject close to my heart: showing appropriate appreciation for your incredible staff members. They’re the backbone of your practice, so how can you make them feel valued and recognized? We’ll explore why they need appreciation, how best to show it, and some brilliant solutions that are both free and cost money.
Our patients come to us when they’re not at their best. They hurt, they’re sick, they’re scared, and occasionally, they take it out on the team. This can make the medical world intense and demanding, and your staff members are right there in the trenches with you. They are there with you, taking care of patients, and they make those daily miracles happen. So why is it crucial to show them the appreciation they deserve? Let’s dive in.
First is to enhance morale. A well-appreciated team is a happy team. Acknowledging their hard work fuels enthusiasm and creates a positive work environment. The second “why” for appreciation is retaining talent. Your staff members are gems and you want to keep them. Regular appreciation aids retention, reducing the costs of hiring and training new employees. And it helps you to create a destination workplace.
Third and probably most important is improving patient care: happy staff provide better care. It’s that simple! A positive environment fosters collaboration and compassion.
So now that we know why appreciation matters, let’s explore how to show it!
You don’t always have to break the bank to make your team feel valued. Here are some heartwarming, cost-effective ways:
- Say thank you: Never underestimate the power of a genuine “thank you.”
- Personalized notes: In our automated, digital world, handwritten notes make people feel special. Pen a quick message acknowledging their hard work or a particular achievement. And, I have to say it, make sure it’s legible!
- Public recognition: A shout-out during team meetings can mean the world.
- Flexible scheduling: If possible, allow flexibility in working hours. It can significantly boost morale. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to expand patient care hours to improve the patient experience. This is a great opportunity to offer some flexibility to your team. Maybe they’d like to work four 10-hour days? Or pick up a Saturday morning in exchange for a half day off at another time in the week.
- Promote a positive work environment: Encourage an atmosphere where team members support and uplift each other.
Now, let’s look at ways that do require financial investment but can make a big difference. Investing in your team is never a loss. Here are some great ways to show your appreciation that you can add into your budget going forward:
- Bonus and incentives: Who doesn’t love a bonus? Monetary rewards for achievements or just a job well done can mean a lot.
- Professional development opportunities: Invest in their growth through courses, seminars, or workshops. This not only improves their skills but shows that you believe in their potential.
- Health and wellness programs: Your staff takes care of patients, so why not take care of them? A gym membership or a wellness program can be an excellent way to show you
- Chair massage days: Many offices we know routinely hire a massage therapist to come in for a few hours and give 10-to-15-minute chair massages to sooth tired shoulders and necks.
- Staff outings and celebrations: Organize regular outings or celebrate milestones. Those foster camaraderie and make the workplace more enjoyable. It also brings the team closer together if you can have some fun and laughs together outside of the workplace.
Now, let’s talk about an aspect that’s often overlooked but crucial: Keeping appreciation fair and appropriate. We all have our favorites, but in a professional environment, we must ensure that we show no favoritism and that our gestures of appreciation cannot be interpreted as inappropriate.
Avoiding favoritism is critical, as any hint of favoritism turns a nice gesture into an event that can be hurtful or damaging. While you may have a closer working relationship with your nurse or medical assistant, be sure to provide equal recognition and thanks to the front office folks and the billing staff too. Even if you don’t see them every day, they are working for you every day.
Create clear guidelines: Having clear and consistent guidelines ensures that everyone knows what is expected and how achievements are recognized. It’s also a great idea to involve the team. Encourage a culture where team members celebrate one another’s successes. It helps in recognizing diverse efforts and reduces bias. Some groups even convene a Fun Committee and give them a budget. This allows the team to plan some fun events and recognize them within the guidelines you’ve given them. You’ll be surprised by their creativity!
It’s also important that we maintain professional boundaries and keep things tasteful. Also, be mindful of personal preferences. What may be a gesture of appreciation to one might be uncomfortable for another. Understanding individual preferences and cultural sensitivities is essential. Introverts and extroverts experience recognition very differently. Understand who your team is and strive to recognize them the way that speaks to them as an individual. If you’re in doubt about this, ask the manager in your office or one of your partners for their input. Your thoughtfulness will go a long way.
Next up, communicate openly. If you’re planning a staff outing or a gift, don’t hesitate to ask for opinions. Transparency can prevent misunderstandings.
And as our society gets more litigious, we should wander through some legal and ethical considerations too. It’s important to know the boundaries, as some forms of appreciation might be legally or ethically inappropriate. Always align with organizational policies and consult with your partners or manager or HR if needed. And if in doubt, probably best to skip that idea and move on to another.
Another caveat here: some younger staff members may be a little starstruck if a physician pays them attention or gives them a compliment or a gift. Beware of their feelings and don’t communicate in a way that might leave them wondering if your intentions are something more than professional. Your team looks up to you, and they may misinterpret appreciation as something more personal.
Fairness and appropriateness are cornerstones of a healthy appreciation strategy. By being mindful and inclusive, you can create a culture where everyone feels respected and acknowledged. Let’s keep this spirit of fair appreciation going as we move forward!
Appreciating your staff members isn’t just a nice gesture; it’s a vital ingredient for a thriving practice. Whether through a simple thank you or investing in professional development, your acknowledgement fuels the passion and dedication that make your medical practice successful.
Remember, whether free or with some investment, the value you show your staff today pays dividends in morale, retention, and quality care tomorrow.
That’s a wrap for today’s episode of Medical Money Matters. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to follow or subscribe and share with fellow physicians and clinic administrators.
Please join me for our next episode, where we’ll talk about Sexual Harassment in the workplace and some strategies to avoid that risk.