5 things to consider when creating staff incentives

2015 05 12 15 59 09 147 Geier Jay 200

Great companies -- including great practices -- create a culture that continually connects pay with performance against goals. This approach supercharges the business by continually moving performance goals up, which increases people's pay through incentives and bonuses.

I heavily recommend using incentive-based pay structure to my clients for three reasons:

  • The talented people are motivated to step up and perform at higher levels.
  • The people who just show up for a paycheck are exposed and will usually leave -- and that's a good thing.
  • Increased staff performance means an increased patient experience and, in turn, an increased bottom line for the practice.
Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

The Scheduling Institute has always operated on an incentive-based structure. Every one of my full-time staff members has an incentive plan tied to his or her performance. Why? Because I have seen talented people -- motivated by incentives -- step up their game time and time again for their own benefit but also for the benefit of the company. And I want talented, motivated people on my team to ensure the satisfaction of my clients and help grow the business. I know it works.

Your staff inherently want to perform well, and they want to make more money. That's why the most effective way to motivate them to achieve a goal is to offer meaningful dollar incentives. Of course, structure the incentive so you're taking in more than you're paying out so you're still coming out ahead, then be happy about what you have to pay out!

If you pay your incentives begrudgingly, you send a clear message that you really don't want to pay your people more, no matter what they do for you. And if you don't offer incentives at all, you send the message that their pay will be the same no matter how much they do or don't do for you. This creates a culture in which doing only the minimum is acceptable -- and that could be devastating to your practice.

5 things to consider

So let's assume you want to implement an incentive structure in your practice. Now what? Here are five things to consider when creating staff incentives in your practice:

1. Statistics

“Incentives should be performance-based and tied to a statistic over which the person has control.”

Incentives should be performance-based and tied to a statistic over which the person has control. What statistic does the person have the ability to really impact? Here are a few examples of positions in a dental practice with appropriate statistics.

  • Front desk: New patients and front desk collections
  • Hygienist: Personal hygiene collections
  • Marketing director: New patients and referrals

2. Average

What's the current average for the statistic? You shouldn't pay out an incentive for someone to just maintain the average in an area. Incentives are to motivate someone to grow an area, and they should be paid out only when the person helps make the statistic rise or improves it over the average.

3. Baseline

Set a baseline. We recommend setting baselines about 10% to 30% higher than the monthly average. For example, if your monthly new patient average is 25, you should set the baseline between 28 and 33. The baseline number is where you start to pay the incentive amount.

4. Dollars

Set incentive dollar amounts, not percentages. Start with the baseline and work up. Five levels of increments is a good place to start, but you can add a few more. Just don't overcomplicate it. Using the example above and the baseline is 30, you can pay out $100 for 30 new patients, $150 for 35, $200 for 40, and so on.

5. Communicate

Clearly communicate the incentive structure and expectations to the staff. Help them to understand that when the practice does well, they do well. It's a win-win. Confusion over incentives can have a negative result, so make sure people understand them. Tracking and reporting earned incentives each month should be each individual team members' responsibility, not yours. They need to turn in their incentive reports to you without you having to ask for them.

Is your staff ready to step up? To find out, try one of the simplest and yet most effective temporary incentives you can establish immediately: If your practice averages 50 new patients per month, set a target of 60 new patients for the next month. Run a one-month challenge and pay everyone on the team $100 if they achieve the additional 10 new patients next month. The incentive is aligned with the result. This should immediately change the focus of the staff to new-patient generation. And you're certainly taking in more than you're giving out, so you all come out ahead.

Building an incentive-based culture takes time. Instead of permanent team incentives, create individual plans for each person based on what they do to increase the value of the practice and their personal goals. It takes more thought, but the result is worth it.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute. For more information on the institute's trainings, visit www.sionsitesolutions.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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