Article Date: 4/1/2003

staffing solutions
Giving 110 Percent
Employee motivation, part I
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

Why do some employees love their jobs and give 110 percent of themselves while others view their jobs as "just a paycheck" and do only the minimum required of them?

Many factors affect employee motivation and job satisfaction. The most important of these is how well the work itself meets their job-related needs. The better the match, the better the outcome.

What complicates the challenge of addressing employees' job-related needs is that no two people have the same needs. A single parent who has school-age children for example, may have different job-related needs than a person coming from a two-income household who has grown children.

What really matters?

Let's start with some of the most common job-related needs of office personnel.


Money. Money is a powerful incentive, but it has less motivational power than many believe.

Reality check: If you gave everyone on your staff a $1,000 raise, how much harder do you think they would work? For how long?

Optometrists who depend too much on money to motivate employees seldom achieve long-term high performance. It may be possible to achieve satisfactory performance, but that 110-percent effort previously mentioned cannot be exclusively externally motivated. Salary and benefits get employees to show up for work, but they don't get them to work longer, harder or smarter.

For sustained high performance, motivation must come from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. It starts by addressing inner job-related needs such as:

Work that is challenging and interesting. Thirty thousand readers of Working Woman magazine ranked this as the number-one factor in job satisfaction.

Action steps: Provide opportunities for staff with this job-related need to upgrade their job skills, work closely with more experienced personnel; attend CE programs, perform clinical data gathering tasks; become certified by the American; Optometric Association as a paraoptometric, paraoptometric assistant or paraoptometric tech.

The change of pace and challenge of such assignments provides a motivational shot in the arm for employees who have this job-related need. Give them a chance to learn and grow on the job, acquire new skills, earn a performance-based increase in salary and reach the highly satisfying sense of achievement that goes with it. It's this inner sense of achievement that leads to motivation -- not the other way around.

The need to have a say in decisions affecting one's work. Sharing decision-making power demonstrates respect for employees and for their expertise and increases the likelihood of better decisions. It also helps your employees develop a sense of ownership of their jobs, which in turn, makes their work more motivating and satisfying.

Equally important: When employees feel they have a say in the decisions that affect their work, they're more motivated to perform with distinction than if they feel they're just being told what to do.

Action steps: Seek employees' opinions about a change in office policies and procedures. Involve staff in the hiring of new employees and the purchase of new equipment. Use meetings to brainstorm for ways to improve collections, scheduling, patient satisfaction and other aspects of day-to-day practice.

Meeting the job-related needs of employees is the simplest, surest way of meeting your own needs for a high-performance practice.



Optometric Management, Issue: April 2003