Employee recognition: How to show your appreciation this holiday season

Holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about staff appreciation.

A recent survey found that over 70 percent of medical office assistants (MOAs) are expecting a holiday bonus this season.  Based on the survey results, the average cash bonus in 2017 fell between $200 to $500, with a few outliers paying out in the thousands.  While a wide array of bonus and employee appreciation practices exist within the medical community, it is important to remember that at the core, employees want to feel valued and acknowledged for their contribution to your practice.

It’s no secret that an employee’s connection to their place of work has a direct relationship to performance.  Gallup, a leading HR research firm, reports that employees who feel valued and engaged have a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity. Of even more importance perhaps is the research demonstrating that engaged employees have 24 percent less turnover. This is of significance, when you consider that the average cost to replace an employee is 16 percent of their annual salary.

Cash bonuses are appreciated by employees.  However, there are other important ways to show gratitude and foster engagement.  Taking the time to understand the personal interests of your clinic staff, offering positive feedback and demonstrating insight when it comes time for recognition can be worthwhile practices.   As one medical office assistant commented ‘Bonuses are great, but it is always special to receive additional appreciation and praise for my commitment to my profession.’

When it comes to this holiday season, consider how you will show your appreciation.  Some clinics set a range for cash bonuses: for example, $300 to $500 per employee and set an allowance for additional non-cash gifts and events.   While the practice of providing employee bonuses is a long-standing tradition for many organizations, note that it is more typical of mid to large size corporations.  If you do decide to reward your clinic staff with a cash bonus, choose the amount carefully and fairly. Review seniority and performance before distributing, and don’t hesitate to set a ceiling for future payouts.  Keep in mind that practices today will set a precedent for years to come.  If you historically have been paying out at a high level and want to make a change, be sure to give your employees ample notice.

The holidays are a great time to host a staff event.  Whether it’s a clinic lunch or sending your employees out for pedicures, be cognizant of the event value from a team building perspective.  Team events are an excellent way to develop culture and increase engagement, by providing the opportunity to step outside of the office and converse in a casual setting. Creating strong relationships within the workplace leads to improved job satisfaction and retention, which translates to improved patient service.

Think outside of the box when it comes to planning an event and consider venues that foster fun and conversation for larger teams, such as a bowling night or an evening out at a comedy club.  If alcohol is involved, save yourself the legal exposure and pay for taxi rides home.

Be thoughtful. Consider purchasing a gift reflective of your employee’s interests or a toy for his or her child. Great ideas utilized by physicians in 2017 included gift baskets, clinic branded water bottles and the gift of additional vacation days.

For those in smaller office environments, don’t discount the power of inviting your MOA and his or her partner out for a meal with your family.  Providing insight into who you are outside of the office will only strengthen your employment relationship.

While cash is appreciated, providing positive feedback, investing in staff experiences and thoughtful rewards will lead to happier employees and improved patient service.

Matt Dickson is pediatric otolaryngologist. Caroline Dickson is a business school instructor.  They are the founders, MOACareers.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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