3 strategies for offering raises to team members
Your team members strive to make your veterinary practice the best it can be. And what do they receive in return? Offering a pat on the back or verbal praise for a job well done is nice, but nothing says "thanks for the hard work" like cold, hard cash.
But knowing when and how to offer raises to your team members requires a delicate balance. Fail to give a raise—or offer one that's too meager—and your staff will feel underpaid and underappreciated. They may even jump to a practice that offers better pay. But overdo it and you'll spend too much of your hard-earned revenue on staff wages. So how do you find the perfect middle ground? First, you need to decide how you'll establish criteria for raises. Here are several options for rewarding employees.
MERIT-BASED RAISESHow you compensate your employees sends a strong message about the culture of your practice, says Amy Morgan, CEO of the Pride Institute, a dental consulting firm in Novato, Calif. "If you never give raises, even if your productivity keeps rising, you'll convey the message that it's futile for the staff to work harder because their efforts go unrewarded and they have no control over their compensation," she says. But if you give raises annually just because a year has passed, you'll send the message that employees are rewarded without having to work toward new levels of excellence.
Both of these approaches encourage substandard performance and a lack of accountability from team members, Morgan says. Instead, try using a compensation model that expects, recognizes, and rewards achievement, making a statement that you want employees who work hard and strive for excellence.
To use the merit-based pay model, identify team members who've made specific contributions to the practice, such as improving collections, increasing compliance with recheck visits, going the extra mile by staying late to care for emergencies, or inventing ways to improve efficiency or revenue.
Keep in mind that offering merit-based pay raises could mean that no two raises will be the same, says Mark Kropiewnicki, president of Health Care Law Associates in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. So if the average raise is 3 percent, a "good" employee will merit a raise greater than 3 percent, an "average" employee will receive 3 percent, and a "poor" employee will receive less than 3 percent—or perhaps no raise at all.