Retaining good employees may well be as critical to the health and success of your medical practice as it is to the health and well-being of your patients. So with employee retention in mind, what would you say is the most effective tool you can use to build a loyal and dedicated workforce? If you think it’s money, think again! Although few employees would turn down a raise, there are a variety of other tried-and-true tools that will reduce employee turnover and keep your medical practice staff satisfied, engaged, and productive.
Encourage a culture of open communication by demonstrating to your medical staff that their feedback—both positive and negative—matters. Frontline staff frequently have the best ideas on office operations and how to improve practices and procedures, and they tend to have more buy-in when they’ve had some input.
Regularly scheduled medical staff meetings are crucial for keeping the lines of communication open and making sure all staff members stay in the loop. In addition to formal staff meetings, you might try the following:
- Huddles (five- to ten-minute mini-meetings to brief staff before start of day or at lunchtime)
- Coaching and mentoring sessions (opportunities to provide frequent feedback, focusing on positive behavior)
- Informal chats (asking for and listening to staff members' ideas regarding solutions to specific issues).
Consistent and Fair Management
It is often said—and with much truth—that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers. In fact, leading research by Gallup determined that a full 50% of study participants had left a job to get away from their manager. Don’t let this happen in your medical practice office! Good managers will
- be transparent and honest;
- uphold office policies;
- hold all employees accountable to the same standards;
- set clear expectations for what is expected of each staff member;
- be considerate, respectful, and supportive;
- provide a productive and efficient work environment that is clean, safe, and organized with appropriate technology, tools, and supplies; and
- take care of “troublemakers” before they infect the staff and negatively impact morale.
Education and Training
Invest in your staff to keep them educated, motivated, and energized. Foster a learning environment by providing access to publications, books, webinars, professional memberships, and outside seminars and training benefits where possible. Give them opportunities for growth that recognize their unique strengths and skills, such as participating on special teams or committees where their talents can be noticed and utilized.
Recognition and Celebration
Last, but definitely not least, is staff recognition. In fact, this tip was left to the last to give it maximum emphasis. Strategic medical practice staff recognition can accomplish what no other techniques can. When you have created a culture of recognition, employees know there are specified goals to reach for and that they will be recognized and rewarded for reaching them.
- Informal recognition can be incorporated on a day-to-day basis. Genuine praise for a job well done is always appreciated, as are hand-written thank-you notes, emails expressing thanks, special treats, balloons, flowers and plants, or even small gifts. A good tip here is to be specific about your employees’ actions and why you are thanking them, rather than just a quick “Great job!” It’s not hard for your staff to know when they’ve received obligatory or cursory acknowledgment, as compared to heartfelt gratitude that highlights their specific contributions to the success of your organization.
- Formal recognition can include well-established programs, such as Employee-of-the-Month awards, service pins or certificates, or regularly scheduled public recognition at staff meetings or in company newsletters or awards banquets.
But don’t feel that you have to wait for a formal occasion or milestone in order to celebrate. Be spontaneous! No special occasion necessary. Surprise your staff with bagels or doughnuts for no reason at all. Or create your own unique office traditions and celebrations—anything that will keep your work environment fresh and invigorating.
In summary, medical staff morale affects every aspect of a successful medical practice. Without motivated, committed employees, it is difficult to deliver excellent patient care. Every member of the team must be pulling together—providers, clinical staff, business staff, and management—to succeed. It will take a concentrated and deliberate approach by management to retain motivated and committed employees, but it will be well worth the effort in the long-term success of your medical practice.