Working hours consume about 35% of one’s waking hours during a working lifetime. With 33% of one’s hours sleeping, it is easy to see that work-life plays a major role in one’s happiness, and studies have shown repeatedly that a happy workforce is also more productive. They do more and go the extra mile for the practice, their Boss, and their coworkers. In the medical office, the happiness factor takes on greater importance, as it is a small group of people working in often tight quarters. And it is often an environment with the drama of dealing with patients, people experiencing emotional as well as physical stress in their lives. Often not the most pleased, as sick people just don’t exude happiness, and that can be contagious.
Keeping your office happy is one of those must-do things that do not get the attention it should. A happy staff adds to practice success, while unhappy staff functions at the minimum level of productivity.
Some things to do, that don’t cost a lot, to show your staff that they are appreciated.
A better, inexpensive and user-friendly EHR for small private practices can also be a very important factor to keep your practice happier.
Unexpectedly say thank you with a simple gift card. One day just had out a Starbucks, or better yet a local establishment gift card. So, it costs you $25 a card, not a big buck, but very meaningful to the recipient. And if you use a card for a local establishment, you add spreading some practice goodwill with a local business. Do this a couple of times a year, randomly. Big impact, few dollars.
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Let your staff “Post on the wall”, that is set up a bulletin board in the lunchroom and invite your employees to post pictures of vacations, family, gardens, pets, etc. This lets everyone see each other as more than the roles they play in the office. People working together, but still people with lives beyond the workplace. And if you learn of an employee receiving some recognition outside of the office – celebrate it with a posting and a congratulatory note.
You can augment this posting wall with a celebration calendar – note events to be celebrated; birthdays, work anniversaries; and perhaps other important dates in the lives of your staff. Food remains the best and easiest way to mark a special date. Bring out the ice cream cake.
Recognize good work with scheduled meetings of your practice manager with each of the staff to say thank you and comment on the good that they do. The physician should contribute to this with comments to the practice manager that can be passed on during these discussions. And better still, if the physician takes a few moments to pass on a thank you, good job, to the staff periodically. Staff should hear from managers more than when things go wrong. Let them hear as things are going right.
During the summer stop the cream truck and invite the vendor in to take orders for a novelty, or let the staff run out to pick their own. Let the office pick up the tab. This suggestion gets talked about for a long time.
Try an old-style “Buck at day” contest. Invite your staff to come up with suggestions that will save at least $1 a day or increase revenue $1 a day. For every suggestion, and reward every suggestion, give them a nice new Susan B Anthony Dollar coin. You will get some great suggestions and when you implement any of them, pass on recognition for the best, perhaps with an additional economic reward.
One of the challenges of medical practice is continuing education. The money is not there like it was to attend programs and conferences. But this does not mean that education should stop. Promote the use of free online courses, or low-cost courses by identifying them and challenging staff to take them. Do this as a group project and do your own in-house test on the knowledge. You can run it like a contest for the high score.
An annual holiday party/dinner, while traditional, and largely appreciated, it is a once a year event. To keep your staff upbeat, try the more regular recognitions to make staff appreciation part of your practice operation.