Employee Incentives in Healthcare: How to Boost Staff Productivity

How many times have we heard it, “take care of your employees, and your employees will take care of your customers”. It’s as true in healthcare as it is in any other industry.

To be competitive in the healthcare industry, it is no longer enough to provide the best medical equipment, facilities, or even employ the best staff. To achieve growth and patient loyalty in your hospital or healthcare facility, experts tell us that we must focus on the employee experience and align that to organizational growth objectives.

The competition is fierce for healthcare workers as well as patients. Today, the best patient service means strong patient loyalty. Driving patient loyalty starts with increasing employee loyalty.

An effective incentive reward program including recognition can impact all areas of an organization. Benefits include the ability to attract top talent and keep those talented employees longer (reduced turnover) and improved patient and employee experiences. Incentive Reward Programs only pay out when goals are achieved, so it’s an efficient use of financial resources that leads to organizational growth and higher profits.

Recognition Impacts Healthcare Employee Engagement

According to Harvard Business Review, only 44% of hospital workers are engaged. This represents a majority of doctors, nurses, administrative and support staff who are disconnected from the goals of the healthcare organization. Recognition and reward programs are proven tactics to increase healthcare employee engagement as well as employee engagement in other industries.

When we talk about incentive and recognition programs, we mean systematically and intentionally acknowledging and appreciating employees for their achievements. We know now that the most effective employee incentives in healthcare as well as other industries are not based on attendance or length of service. Current recognition programs are performance-based and help to:

  • Align the employee’s purpose and values with the healthcare organization’s
  • Provide the necessary tools for managers & employees to reach the goals and perform as required
  • Outline the way for employees to develop, grow, & enhance their careers
  • Provide feedback & data that can be used to improve and grow methods of recognition

From the employee perspective, a recognition program is not negotiable – it’s essential. The vast majority of employees expect to be recognized for good work, but very few healthcare workers actually feel appreciated and recognized.

When employees feel appreciated and recognized, they stay! With estimates suggesting that it costs between 50-60% of an employee’s salary to replace them, turnover is a very expensive line item. Gallup reports that 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged, indicating a very real but very manageable problem for healthcare leaders.

Effective Recognition Program Design for Healthcare Employee Engagement

 Types of employee recognition programs can include performance-based rewards, peer-to-peer recognition, referral rewards and even rewards for innovative ideas. It is critical today for the programs to be built on a consolidated platform, mobile enabled and accessible to employees across the organization.An effective recognition program will address four basic emotional needs of employees as outlined by Nitin Nohria. These basic needs are:

  1. Acquire – the drive to acquire things, experiences, status, accolades, positions, etc.
  2. Bond – the desire to be connected to others through friendships, teams, and meaningful workplace interactions
  3. Comprehend – the desire to be challenged, learn, demonstrate their expertise and excel in their chosen fields
  4. Defend – a strong sense of justice and assurance that workplace practices and policies are fair

Employers today are looking to modernize the employee value proposition, which includes identifying strategies that positively impact tenure, organizational culture, employee engagement and the patient experience. Incentive Reward Programs are one of the proven strategies that can increase healthcare employee engagement and positively impact organizational performance and profitability.