You already know that your ability to attract and retain good employees depends on good salaries and benefits. And you may be aware that other factors also have some bearing on your employees’ happiness, loyalty, and performance. But do you know what those factors are? You may be surprised at what really counts.
The late Frederick Herzberg, Ph.D., one of the most famous researchers in the field of employee motivation, identified two categories of factors that impact staff. The first category, which he called “hygiene,” includes the kind of tangible, external factors that most of us think of when considering employee compensation, such as salary, supervision, job status, and job security.
The second category, termed “motivators,” includes more intangible, internal factors that affect staff, such as having opportunities for achievement and advancement, having enough responsibility, and being recognized for both.
In his research, Herzberg found that both hygiene and motivators are crucial for employee satisfaction. That is, while salary, benefits, and job status may attract your employees, it’s the workplace culture that will get them to stick around. This is something that many employers don’t understand. In fact, in one study of what 1,000 employees and 100 of their bosses think motivates employees, the two groups came up with totally different lists. (The employers listed wages and job security, the classic “hygiene” factors, while the employees listed feeling appreciated and “being in on things,” which are classic “motivator” factors.)
Think you might be missing out on perks that really work to motivate employees? Here are some ideas:
- Thank your staff. When they do a good job, whether they juggled 12 urgent care visits with grace and efficiency or worked out a long-term solution to patient flow through the office, let them know you appreciate it. Consider handwritten notes expressing your gratitude, flowers, or gift certificates to theaters and restaurants; there are many ways to thank your staff.
- Surprise them with treats and gifts. Some practices give their employees envelopes with $100 in cash and a limo ride to the local mall. Others bring in pizza on a particularly busy day, a tray full of lattes, or even ice cream sundae fixings.
- Communicate with them. One of the biggest factors affecting employee loyalty is whether they feel “in the loop.” Consider sharing financial information with more than just your partners and accountant. Or if you know important (nonprivileged) patient information, such as Mrs. Lawson’s grandson was killed in a car accident or Mr. Jones is about to remarry, let your staff know, too. It helps them feel more a part of the practice.
- Listen to them. Your employees are the eyes and ears of your practice. Be sure to take their concerns into consideration. What may seem like complaining could be evidence of a simmering conflict that could turn a thriving practice into a totally dysfunctional one.
- Schedule performance reviews. Believe it or not, most employees like performance reviews because it gives them an idea of what they’re doing well and what they need to improve.
- Provide opportunities for advancement. Physicians aren’t the only ones who like to succeed in their careers. Offer help with tuition, access to training seminars, and opportunities to be promoted. That makes employees feel that their jobs are part of their careers, not just a way of paying the bills.
- Offer flexible hours. Some of your best talent may be parents who are trying to figure out a way to also be home for their children. Get creative about work scheduling, so you can attract (and retain) part-time workers and those who might want to work from home sometimes.
- Know thyself. If you’ve ever worked for a jerk, you know how tough an irritable, verbally abusive, or overly controlling boss can be. But do you know how your own management style rates with (or grates on) your employees? Take some management classes or even conflict resolution training so you can learn to be effective and compassionate. That effort counts for an awful lot with staff.