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The Big 3: What Do Your Employees Really Want?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 9:00 AM

Case Studies, Expert Advice

Written by: Derek Preece

Derek Preece
Former Executive Consultant

“Call me as soon as you can — I have some really good news.”

I listened to this voicemail with great interest. It was from an administrator who had asked me to keep my ear to the ground for any job openings in which she might be interested, since she wasn’t feeling appreciated at the practice she was managing.

I called her back and immediately sensed the excitement in her voice. She told me she had met with her doctors earlier that day, giving a report on numerous current projects and an update on some she had completed. As the meeting ended and the doctors departed, one physician stayed behind and asked her if she would wait just a minute. She replied that she would, and then he said, “I am going to write you a bonus check for $1,000. The other practice owners and I really appreciate how hard you have worked to accomplish the many projects you’ve undertaken these past few months, and we want to express our thanks to you and give you a little extra money for your vacation.”

As the administrator told me the good news, it was interesting that she didn’t focus on the money — although I knew she could use the extra funds. Her excitement came from the recognition by the doctors. She had worked hard and had accomplished the goals she had set for improving the practice. Her efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed as she previously believed.

This true story illustrates the three main things that good employees seek from their jobs — money, achievement, and recognition.

Money. We need money to survive. We can’t pay our bills, save for retirement, or repair our cars and houses without money, so we spend much of our time working in exchange for money. However, paying employees more doesn’t guarantee that their work will improve. Suggestions regarding the amount you pay your employees include:

  • Compensate at local market value. Base pay on market rates for the positions employees hold. Some practices like to pay a little above market, and that’s helpful in attracting and retaining employees, but problems among employees may arise in practices that compensate too far below or well above market rates. Likewise, it’s best to base benefits on your local market as closely as possible.
  • Avoid overpaying out of guilt. Generosity is an admirable trait, and paying your employees what they are worth is a key to practice success. However, some employees live beyond their means, so no amount you pay them will ever be enough. Be careful not to fall into misplaced guilt or responsibility for their irresponsible spending habits.
  • Send the right message. Keep in mind that pay is more than money — it is also a communication from you to your employees. A large raise, a small raise, or no pay increase at all are all management actions that send a message. Make sure your compensation policies and practices reflect the message you want staff to receive.

Achievement. Good employees like to achieve. A sense of accomplishment boosts self-esteem and helps workers feel that their efforts are worthwhile. Most good employees will go stir crazy in a job that is too routine, where there is no progress to measure other than getting through another day. Those who manage businesses set and accomplish goals every day, week, and month. However, many practice employees are robbed of that excitement and sense of accomplishment inherent in setting and achieving goals because they’ve never set goals for themselves. You can assist employees in cultivating a sense of achievement by having them set goals to improve their work, learn something new, or add more value to their job

Recognition. Recognition of staff members’ efforts by managers and owners reinforces feelings of achievement and accomplishment. Without recognition, employees can become weary of trying hard to improve their work because it seems to them that they are laboring without anyone noticing. When my office surveys employees of a practice, one of the most common complaints among staff members is a lack of feedback — specifically, they say that they rarely are congratulated or thanked when they accomplish something for the practice. Sometimes employees state that their managers show appreciation, but the physicians do not. It is important that both managers and doctors recognize the successes of their staff members.

It Takes All Three

Appropriate compensation, the opportunity to achieve, and recognition of their efforts are the three things that good employees seek from their employers. To the degree that your practice provides those to your staff, you will attract and retain the best employees possible.

YOUR TURN: What do you do to keep your employees happy? Please leave your response in the comment section below.

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