Staff incentives should be personalized

Staff incentives should be personalized

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Feb 01, 2005

ORLANDO — Your team hungers for recognition, and incentive programs can provide the right prescription to recognize superior accomplishments, says Louise E. Dunn, of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting in Greensboro, N.C.

"They don't have to be complicated, but they do have to stimulate your team to action," she says. "You need to decide whether or not an incentive is right for your team."

"Using an electric cattle prod is not the incentive program we would like to really create," she laughs.

But before jumping in head first, Dunn offers a word of caution: Do your homework before starting an incentive program in your hospital.

Administrative headaches and increased workload can dampen the concept. The key, Dunn told attendees at The North American Veterinary Conference in January, is to keep the program simple and easy to track.

Dunn also advises owners to tie incentive programs to net income rather than gross. "As the mix of your practice changes, so does your net," she says. "There are a lot of practices out there making a lot of money. And that money is not really being shared. It seemed to me to develop an incentive program based on net would help staff stay motivated and on top of their game."

Whatever program you enact, make it measurable. And make certain your practice clearly identifies an incentive program's goal.

"We want to increase client loads and patient care to improve the business," she says. Incentives will also create awareness, bond a team and provide a common goal."

Dunn adds that bonding a team is an important aspect to practice management.

A key strategy, she says, is to put two staff members in conflict together to achieve a common goal to build the team bond. For example, Dunn says, an incentive program can work wonders for two staff members in conflict. The two people in conflict will be moving "toward a common goal".

Incentive program must include:

  • Commitment from management
  • Knowledge about the limitations of your team
  • Learning process expectations.

In the end, Dunn says to consider long-term incentives and short-term programs that help drive revenue into the practice. The trick is to reward your staff for a job well done.

"You are going to see better patient care, the gross will probably go up, and it will likely come back to the bottom line if your fee schedule is in line."

Incentives, however, are not a magic bullet, Dunn cautions, and each practice needs to evaluate whether or not these programs are right for them.