Article Date: 6/1/2002

Business Advisor
Money Isn't Everything
Keep staff turnover to a minimum by becoming a better boss.
By Jerry Hayes, O.D.

If you asked O.D.s what they think their staff members consider the most important criteria for job satisfaction, many practice owners would put "take home pay" at the top of the list. But that's not always the case.

Harmony over money

The market research firm of Taylor, Nelson and Sofres recently asked a large group of workers to cite the factors they valued most when deciding to keep a job or make a change. Below are the top 10 factors in order of importance and the percentage of respondents that ranked each as important or very important.

1. Good working relationship with the boss (69%)

2. Ability to do the job well (69%)

3. A sense of job security (68%)

4. Up-to-date tools and equipment (63%)

5. Challenging and interesting work (60%)

6. Opportunity to use personal initiative (60%)

7. Benefits (60%)

8. Salary (57%)

9. Employer stability (57%)

10. Close commute (54%).

What's really important?

Once a certain level of income has been achieved, most people aren't going to change jobs for a little more money. They will leave, however, if they don't get along with their boss or if they don't enjoy their work. Conversely, people will stay in a job if they really like what they do and the people they work with, even if they can make more money elsewhere.

The few people who've left me have usually had an opportunity for career advancement with a significant raise. Those were cases where I hated to lose the person, but I couldn't blame them for taking a better position.

I can also think of several times when good employees fired me as their boss (they quit) because they weren't getting along with their immediate supervisor or me. These losses are regrettable because I could've saved a great employee if I'd handled the situation better.

Becoming a great boss

There's more to building a great staff than just being a nice guy. I've identified three basic steps that go a long way in proving yourself as a great person to work for. They are:

1 Develop a good working relationship. The best way to do this is to let each employee know exactly what you expect of him by creating job descriptions that clearly outline each staffer's duties and responsibilities.

2 Establish and maintain good communication. Try meeting with each staff member for a few minutes once or twice a month to give feedback on performance. This is also a good time to listen to concerns and complaints. You don't want to lose good workers because your office manager is doing a lousy job supervising them.

3 Give positive feedback and praise. Don't fall into the trap of commenting only when an employee does something wrong. It's perfectly fine to correct your employees -- just make sure you balance criticism with praise.

Keep your team together

Staff turnover isn't only frustrating and expensive, it's also disruptive in terms of office efficiency and patient care. Knowing what employees want and doing your part as a great boss is the best possible way to build a great team and keep it for the long term.



Optometric Management, Issue: June 2002