Consider Incentives through Job Satisfaction to Achieve Operational Excellence

This morning as I normally do, I got up and prepared to go to the park for my daily run. There was a slight drizzle outside (did I mention I live in Seattle?) so I debated for a minute, suggesting to myself that it would be much more relaxing to stay inside where it was dry, sit on the couch with my beverage of choice and comfy slippers and watch the morning talk shows. Before settling in to this momentary “preferred” potato agenda, I carefully weighed the options. Do I make an extra effort and apply myself by taking my run (which in turn will reward me with helping to reduce cholesterol, maintain weight, stimulate heart function and increase endorphins) or do I sit here sedentary – in a cushy seat listening to my artery walls clog in my own ears?  The alternative was enough of an incentive to persuade me to walk out the door.

Many of the things we do in life, much like my decision to run, are driven by incentive and our work is no exception.  When you speak of motivators at work, you speak in essence of job satisfaction and a person’s decision to stay at their place of employment is usually based on the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) factor. Incentives play a major role. But what incentives help make committed employees?  Sometimes it’s not what the employer does, but what they don’t do in terms of creating a pleasant, encouraging atmosphere in which an employee is enticed to stay. Employers who think “incentive” represents only monetary rewards are the same people who believe that there exists a sure-fire checklist of dollar sign items that will guarantee staff retention. By dollar sign items, I refer to the obvious: better salary, profit sharing, increased pension plan, more days off with pay, etc. While I will not deny that monetary benefits is one way of demonstrating recognition for a job well done and provide a motive to stay, where does it all end?  Where do you draw the line before you start resenting having to dig deeper into your pockets to keep your staff there?  

Believe it or not, there is much more to it than just money. In order to establish a true sense of job satisfaction, employees must feel some measurements of competence, quality of work, learning, creativeness, self-importance, gratitude, teamwork, social interaction, growth and an appealing physical environment. These criteria do not just relate to podiatry….they are universally applicable in any work setting. 

In my presentations to assistants, I’ve been monitoring these levels and find that a majority of them fall in an area where they admit to feeling somewhat fulfilled, but not as much as they could. Most times they claim it is due to their doctors not realizing or appreciating all that they do. I find it fascinating that many doctors are willing to reach out to find ways to reward and appreciate their staff but confused about how to make that happen. My best suggestion is to start with a simple “Thank You!” and add to that a heaping dose of awareness. Conscious awareness is the first step towards appreciation. Are you aware? 

Try answering the following questions and see. PS- No one is listening…so be honest.

  • Are you aware that your staff constantly initiates little, unnoticeable ways of doing things that helps to increase overall productivity and allow the office to run more efficiently?
  • Are you aware that answering just one phone call during the day can oft times generate 5 (or more) spin-off jobs even though the call appears finished?
  • Are you aware that if your staff thinks of your practice as “their” practice, they will put almost as much effort and energy into it as you do?
  • Are you aware that there are many times when your staff will go over and above the call of duty, without any verbal recognition of their extra efforts?
  • Are you aware that when you complain, “Do you know how much I pay my staff?” that it sounds like you are dissatisfied with their services?
  • Are you aware that one of the reasons your patients return is because of the way they are treated by your staff?
  • Are you aware that sometimes your staff does not feel like smiling….but does anyway?
  • Are you aware that your staff is FULL of ideas, but sometimes is not given the opportunity to share or discuss them?
  • Are you aware that holding your staff back from learning (and trying) new things severely inhibits their creativity, interest and professional growth?
  • Are you aware that if you treat your staff fairly, they will be your biggest fans and marketing agents….and if you don’t, they will not be encouraged to speak very highly of you, in or out of the office?
  • Are you aware that your staff is human and allowed to make mistakes?
  • Are you aware that sometimes staff will come in early to get work done uninterrupted?
  • Are you aware that if you make promises to your staff….they actually remember them, especially when you don’t follow through?
  •  Are you aware that your staff is aware of all these things?

Job satisfaction is credited with further enhancing performance, lowering absenteeism and turnover, producing committed, loyal employees who want to maintain connection with their job and providing eagerness to go the extra mile (above & beyond their job description) in order to achieve operational excellence.  Is job satisfaction within reach in your office?   If you appreciate your staff ….let them know it.  What’s your incentive?  Author Cecil Selig said, “When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.”

I’ll let you figure it out.