Article Date: 11/1/2008

Gas: The New Workplace Perk
staffing solutions

Gas: The New Workplace Perk

Gas money and telecommuting are the newest employee incentives.

BY BOB LEVOY, O.D.

The soaring cost of gas has caused an increasing number of practitioners to use more incentives — and even alter their working structures — to keep employees happy and productive.

A recent survey conducted by Florida State University's College of Business revealed that 33% of 800 full-time workers who commute via personal transportation said they'd quit their jobs for a comparable one closer to home if they had the chance — due in large part to higher fuel prices.

As a result, many practitioners have responded to the situation, not only with financial assistance for their employees, but also with substantial changes in the way their practices operate. And, both approaches are serving to help employees feel valued and stay motivated to be productive. Here's a sampling:

Employee gas card

"I give one full-time employee a $120 gas card per month. This is because of the considerable distance she has to travel and that she is the office manager," writes Michael Forman, DPM, of Cleveland. "Everyone else gets a $25 gas card. This has increased staff morale considerably. It shows them that I appreciate their difficulties, and I am on their side."

Hal Ornstein, DPM, of Howell, N.J. approaches the situation a little differently. "We have not reimbursed our staff for gas," he says, "but a few weeks ago to show our appreciation for their great efforts each and every day, we gave them a $100 gas card with a thank you note. They loved it! I always say it's not our customer who's number one. It's our staff."

Telecommuting

Alan J. Kalker, DPM, of Middleton, Wisc. offers a third approach: "We don't provide a gas allowance, but we do have one valuable, hard-working employee in our business office who lives 45 miles away with two very young children. We set her up on www.gotomypc.com. She telecommutes three days a week and comes to the office two days a week," he says. "She works odd hours for the days that she chooses, and her hours have decreased while her output has increased. Since she is doing our insurance most of the time, it doesn't matter where she is. If she calls patients from her home, we cover her phone bill for those calls if they are long distance. It has been win-win."

Four-day workweek

A four-day workweek — not for businesses but rather for their employees is taking root across the country. Many medical offices, for example, find that giving employees rotating days off rather than closing the office for an entire day works best. In an office with five employees, one would be out each day, leaving four in the office on a given day. The employees then rotate days off, so that no one person always gets the coveted Friday.

This arrangement helps improve employee morale, says Patti Mazzacavallo, business office manager for Milwaukee Orthopaedic Group in Wisc. "The benefits include employees realizing the company is on their side and understanding that the price for fuel is a budget cruncher. Another perk is one less day to pay for childcare, along with spending a day during the week with the family."

"I am very grateful to be working with someone who appreciates his employees and goes out of his way to help," writes Loraine Templeton who works for Sheldon Marne, DPM, in Hendersonville, N.C. OM


BOB LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK "222 SECRETS OF HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTHCARE PRACTICES" WAS PUBLISHED BY JONES & BARTLETT PUBLISHERS. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: November 2008