Retention strategies: how to attract and retain the best staff

Retention strategies: how to attract and retain the best staff

It’s long been known that job satisfaction is based on much more than money. Doing meaningful work, feeling appreciated and respected, and having a reasonable degree of control within the office environment trumps money for most people. You can attract and keep the best staff in town by creating and maintaining a culture within your practice that makes people want to work for you. Consider some of the following possibilities if your goal is to be considered the place to be employed.

To the degree possible, offer scheduling flexibility, not only in terms of hours worked each week and daily start and end times, but also in terms of work flow. For example, one employee might like to do somewhat mundane tasks like filing or straightening exam rooms first thing in the morning as a way to ease into the day, while another might prefer to do those same chores at the end of the day. Adopting the stance that “as long as the work gets done” allows each person to work in his or her own way, and that results in a feeling of control.

For reasons large and small – and sometimes for no identifiable reason at all – certain people work well together, while others clash. Job dissatisfaction often results when co-workers are in the latter category. When pairing or teaming up people to work with one another on a daily basis or on special projects, take personalities and preferences into consideration whenever possible. This consideration also applies when assigning staff to work with doctors. The relationship between a back office assistant and the provider they support is critical to both office harmony and patient satisfaction.

Tailor incentives and demonstrations of appreciation to the individual. For example, if you offer a bonus program based on the achievement of certain goals, find out what is important to your employees in the way of what they’d like to receive. One person might opt for extra money on payday, while another would prefer a paid half-day off or a gift certificate from a nearby day spa to indulge in a massage or manicure. Keep in mind, too, that not everyone likes being singled out for public praise. If you recognize employees at staff meetings for having gone above and beyond the call of duty, be sure to tailor that recognition to match the individual’s comfort level with being in the spotlight.

Although expensive to provide, a benefit package can give you a competitive edge when hiring and retaining star employees. Offering paid time off for holidays, vacation, illness and personal time is relatively easy to work into even a small budget, assuming you don’t have to hire temporary staff to cover when someone is away. Providing health insurance might be a stretch for smaller offices, but it’s an important benefit for most people, especially in light of rising healthcare costs. Additional benefits like dental, vision, and life insurance and a retirement plan are also positive incentives for maintaining staff loyalty. Offer as much as you can afford now, and add more benefits as the budget allows.

Finally, take steps to give your employees a voice in the management and planning of the practice. Regular departmental and/or full staff meetings along with an annual retreat offer venues for everyone on the team to share ideas, express concerns, and communicate with one another and with practice leaders.