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Use Employee Incentive Programs to Help Staff Your Hospital

July 17, 2018 • digitalmedia • Success StoriesComments Off on Use Employee Incentive Programs to Help Staff Your Hospital

On top of daily management tasks, you need to plan how to help employees pitch in extra when needed. Staffing incentives are more than just rewards for a job well done. They are regular, organized, and strategic tools that add to the life and health of a hospital or medical center by extending appreciation and well-deserved recognition. They protect, motivate, and can turn around a stress-filled atmosphere. Here is what staffing incentives can add to your hospital’s staff, HR, and recruiting efforts.

The Importance of Employee Incentive Programs

Incentives motivate

It’s a basic principle of human psychology: we work far better in the long run under reward than under threat. Understaffing, the need to fill extra shifts, and requiring constant flexibility can easily create an atmosphere of stress for managers and employees alike. No one wants to work like this constantly, under threat of failure or concerns about firing. Every moment of every day cannot be the moment for one’s most extraordinary effort; there must be seasons of intensified work and seasons in which stress is decreased.

When certain seasons of intensified work are combined with employee incentives, however, employees are motivated to sacrifice voluntarily, and the pressure for constant high-octane performance combined with unexpected, mandatory intensity, is lessened. Employees are happy to put forth extra effort. The work is still getting done, but you have provided a carrot and put away the stick.

They prevent and protect

Incentives create positive experiences around extra work. In this way, they can prevent scheduling and understaffing crises in the first place, since you can plan on willing volunteers, and are setting a precedent for a positive employee response in times of crisis. You are also helping to protect employees from physical and emotional burnout. Instead of being pressured, surprised, or forced into extra sacrifice, employees voluntarily enter a more difficult workload, knowing what it will expect of them, and being able to plan for it accordingly, managing their energy levels and work-life balance.

They encourage positivity

With staffing incentives, employees feel appreciated; their hard work is seen. This creates positive emotions associated with the workplace, with comrades, and even with times when they are required to work harder because they are being rewarded as they deserve. When a workplace goes over and above to give employees a positive experience, this also makes staff feel appreciated as people, and feel good about their own voluntary contribution beyond what’s required. This gives you happier employees who are working hard, doing their best, and feel they’re contributing to a workplace in which they’re appreciated. This contributes to a positive hospital atmosphere which is attractive to recruits and attractive and relaxing to patients, as well.

Tips for incentives

Don’t use them as a replacement for attentiveness to other staff needs. If you’re chronically overworking your staff, for example, but instead of hiring, you use incentives, hoping to sugarcoat the situation, you may be doing more harm than good. Use incentives to motivate and reward extra voluntary effort, not as a consolation prize for involuntary suffering under poor scheduling practices or an unhealthy work environment.

That’s not to say involuntary extra “pushes” for performance are always inappropriate. Because of transitions, shifting insurance coverage laws, and other changes, things can get tough. In addition, certain seasons of the year in a hospital always require everyone to pitch in a little (or a lot) extra. However, just as a dessert is not a replacement for a square meal, incentives are not replacements for solid, consistent, and fair HR, staffing, and scheduling practices.

Keep incentives well-defined. This means limiting them to certain times, such as holiday seasons, management changes, high workload weeks, and crises. Post start and end dates for sign-ups and eligibility. If you do not limit incentives, you will reach a saturation point at which incentives are, for all intents and purposes, part of an employee compensation package. They then lose their character as incentives. Having clear start and cutoff dates for incentives, on the other hand, communicates that you are ahead of the curve on supporting staff when they need it and that you do not expect crises to continue interminably. A limited time frame also allows you to test incentives to see if they work. Finally, without clear and organized timing, incentives can become a poorly-planned drain on your budget.

Provide criteria for incentives which are drawn up in advance. Enacting or announcing an incentive only mid-crisis means that staff now have an incentive to allow crisis to occur. Less than average performance leads to crisis, which leads to the need for an incentive, which means that staff now receive incentives for what would normally be average performance. To keep incentives for those who go above and beyond, reward those who are willing to put in extra effort before the need even hits. And keep it specific. For example, offer bonuses to those who volunteer ahead of time to work extra shifts in the ER over the holidays. Or reward nurses who volunteer to retain a flexible schedule for a staffing deficit you know is coming up in March.

Incentives work best when they are fair rewards, when they have boundaries, and when everyone knows what to expect.

They also work when they’re appealing. Ensure the incentives you offer, large or small, are something your staff could actually want or use. Cash bonuses and time off are universal “thank yous,” but you can also get more creative, as long as you stay relevant. What would you want, if you were in their shoes (as you likely were once)?

For help setting up an effective and efficient employee incentive program, call Fontis Solutions. We love questions, and we’d be happy to speak with you today. We offer single services as well as full suites of managed solutions to improve your hospital’s staff and HR.  

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