Staff Bonuses—Are You Paying More Money for the Same Results?
July 31, 2019
By Steve Vargo, OD, MBA
I want to incentivize my staff to be more productive.
That’s a common response I hear when I ask practice owners what they hope to accomplish with a bonus program. A follow-up conversation often goes like this.
They’re not doing anything different, but now I’m paying them more money.
The problem with incentive programs is they typically define the desired outcome, but not the behavior changes necessary to drive these outcomes. Below I’ll suggest three tips for implementing incentive programs that get results.
Define the actions. Make sure employees are clear not only on what the goal is, but also how the goal is to be achieved. Nobody ever improved their health by merely setting a goal—they did it by changing their habits and behaviors. What do employees need to start doing differently to impact the desired outcome?
Involve the staff. People are generally more committed to change when they are involved in the process. As opposed to dictating to staff what you want them to do, solicit their ideas as well. You may even discover that your staff has some great ideas to increase productivity that you hadn’t considered. For many people, there is a higher level of motivation to see their own ideas succeed as opposed to having change forced upon them. Research has even shown that one of the top reasons employees don’t execute on new ideas is because they think their ideas are better.
Supervise the process. We tried it but the staff went back to doing it the old way. That’s another line I commonly hear from practice owners who tried to implement change. Change is difficult in any organization, largely due to the fact that we are creatures of habit. Without someone in a leadership position providing ongoing supervision and holding people accountable, it’s not unusual for employees to default back to the “old way” of doing things. If the goal of an incentive program is to get employees to be more productive, this outcome would fail to accomplish that.
It’s true that some people are driven by financial rewards but applying that logic to ALL employees often gets disappointing results. Instead of just dangling a carrot and “hoping” for success, consider a more proactive approach described above.
Dr. Vargo serves as Optometric Practice Management Consultant for IDOC. A published author and speaker with more than 15 years clinical experience, he is now a full-time consultant advising ODs in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. For questions or comments about this article, please contact email@example.com.