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The Pros and Cons of Incentivizing Staff

Incentivizing your staff with rewards can be a powerful tool for boosting productivity, motivation, and overall job satisfaction. 

Pros of Offering Staff Incentives

Why is that? Because the human brain is wired to respond to rewards, as it triggers a dopamine hit that gives pleasure and satisfaction. This principle is highlighted in the popular phrase, “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated.” 

Rewards help your staff focus on achieving clear goals, leading to better direction and concentration. It’s motivating to work towards something tangible and be rewarded for it. When staff know their hard work will be rewarded with incentives, they are driven to go above and beyond the norm, boosting their productivity and behavior.

Being rewarded also boosts self-esteem by satisfying the human need for recognition and appreciation, which can sometimes be more important than money. 

Competitive pay and incentive programs also help attract top talent and retain valuable staff, saving the costly expense of turnover.

Cons of Offering Monetary Incentives

However, like everything else in life, there can be a downside to incentives.

They can lead to a short-term focus, where staff are more concerned with immediate rewards rather than long-term success. This can result in cutting corners or overlooking important but less immediate tasks.

Incentives can lead to unintended consequences, such as unhealthy competition, unethical behavior, or a decline in teamwork, because staff might prioritize personal gain over teamwork.

And, if incentives are not set up fairly, they can create feelings of unfairness and animosity, leading to a toxic culture within the practice.

Effective Incentive Programs

Knowing the pros and cons above, should you or shouldn’t you offer incentives? In my experience working with plastic surgery practices for decades, I have found that incentives work well but must be customized depending on your culture. 

Decide if you are offering individual or team performance metrics. Either way, the incentives need to be tied to clear, measurable goals and communicated effectively.

Consider these incentive options:

Team Effort – Customer Service

  • Objective: 5-Star Customer Service
  • Goal: Google Reviews
  • Incentive: Taco Truck lunch for 5 reviews

Team Effort – Revenue-Focused

  • Objective: Increase Profits
  • Goal: Increase Revenues compared to last month or quarter
  • Incentive: 1-3% of profits divided among team members based on hours worked

Patient Care Coordinator Bonus

This one is trickier as revenues and the health of the practice depend on the coordinator’s ability to book surgeries. A bonus structure keeps them motivated to convert consultations and increase revenue.

  • Objective: Book Surgery
  • Goal: Convert Consultations to Paid Procedures
  • Incentive: 1-2% of overall revenues booked

However, it can also create resentment among other staff who may feel they are equally important to the process. 

Yes, everyone on your team should contribute to the overall patient experience, but most would never dream of being the “closer” who has to ask for the money. Just saying…

Spot Bonuses

Offering spot bonuses for exceptional performance or extraordinary contributions can boost morale and encourage a culture of excellence. These are typically one-time rewards given at the discretion of management. 

Some surgeons hand out gift cards when they see a team member go above and beyond or present at their team meetings.

It’s the recognition and acknowledgment of specific behaviors that help set the benchmark for excellence. 

Warning About Incentives

Think incentives through carefully before instituting an incentive program, since it’s nearly impossible to take them back once given.

Conclusion

While monetary incentives can significantly enhance productivity and motivation, they must be carefully designed and implemented to avoid issues down the road. By balancing immediate rewards with long-term goals and ensuring fairness in distribution, you can effectively leverage incentives to drive performance and achieve excellence.

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