Incentive programs are a great way to motivate employees. But it can be hard to dream up a good incentive program. What you create may not engage your employees like you hoped, or they may have unforeseen consequences.
Constructing a great incentive program requires thinking intelligently about what your employees want and what your practice needs. Every practice will find that different incentive programs work for them, but here are a few ideas on how to motivate your employees to go the extra mile for the people and animals they serve.
1) Incentivizing Working Late or Weekends
It’s a rare employee who’s excited to come in to work on a weekend, or second or third shift. But especially if your veterinary practice provides emergency services, you may not be able to afford to let employees be choosy about the hours they work.
Forcing your employees to work undesirable shifts may hurt morale and reduce the pool of potential job applicants over time. But by offering your employees a little extra money for choosing to work at (comparatively) odd hours, you’ll see more employees eager to take these hours — which will improve the service you provide your clients.
2) Offering a “Beware” Bonus
One of the most common uses for an incentive program is to increase the number of examinations done. But this can be tricky: If you’re not careful, you may see an uptick in unnecessary examinations and procedures as your staff rush to take advantage of the incentive. Your bottom line may improve for a while, but your clients will definitely notice over time and react negatively.
But there are some preventative procedures, like dental examinations, that your staff should be doing with every animal that comes in for a check-up. By offering a “beware bonus” that incentivizes routine tests and exams that your staff may not be doing, you’ll dramatically improve the service you provide.
3) Implementing an Overtime Bonus
Some employees love the chance to take overtime. Others hate it — and because it’s voluntary, you may have a hard time getting your staff to work these extra hours in a pinch. By paying a little extra to employees who choose to work overtime, you’ll encourage more employees to consider the possibility who might otherwise pass it up.
4) Incentivizing Growth
Some practices incentivize referrals — and to be sure, referrals can be a great way to grow a business. But a practice that focuses too much on bringing in new clients without retaining the old ones can suffer.
When incentivizing growth, make it clear what your staff needs to do: Bring in new clients, provide excellent service to existing ones, and encourage clients to schedule check-up and follow-up appointments. By rewarding staff with a percentage of the practice’s growth every year, you’ll see your staff take an active interest in your practice’s well-being.
5) Creating Negative Incentives
Penalizing employee misbehavior, like tardiness or absenteeism, is risky territory. By disincentivizing too many behaviors or making the penalties too severe, you may see employee morale take a serious hit. And if an employee’s behavior is problematic enough that you’re considering docking their pay or removing some other bonus, there’s a strong case to be made that you should be considering firing the employee.
But one of the strongest arguments to be made for a negative incentive “program” is that your employees will sit up and take notice. They may yawn through a meeting about the importance of certain procedures, but if they know they’ll be penalized for not meeting your standards, they’ll pay more attention.
Creating a great incentive program can grow your practice and improve your service. By encouraging your staff to behave in certain ways, you’ll increase motivation and morale, and turn your practice into the thriving place you want it to be.
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