A Better Way to Reward Your Team

Staff bonuses are becoming more common in dental practices. Bonuses are either a pre-established amount of one to several hundred dollars paid monthly, quarterly or yearly or a percentage of profits. These bonuses are offered when financial targets of the practice have been met (aka, when dental patients accept treatment plans).

I have never been a fan of team bonuses. However well-intentioned when implementing bonus systems, they often fail to be a source of sustained motivation and can even have a detrimental effect on your team.

Read one of my previous blogs about whether bonuses REALLY work HERE.I speak of the challenge of making profit-sharing equitable when each role within the practice has such varying degrees of influence over patients accepting their treatment plans. 

Those team members who feel they have a larger impact can view the even distribution of the reward as unfair. There is also the question of whether it is ethical to have the financial turnover of your practice play any part in your team’s agenda when dealing with patients who have come for professional management of their health. I doubt that the majority of patients would be happy about this if they discovered it to be the case! 

What is true and admirable is that many practice owners want to reward their team. They see the substantial impact they each and collectively have on the success of the business and want to acknowledge the team’s performance. For these practices, I believe a more appropriate bonus system is one that rewards the team as a whole rather than each individual team member.

During prosperous times, put aside an amount of money that can be spent on team rewards. Ask your team to discuss as a group what purchase could be made that would improve the working environment for everyone. Some examples are:

  • Fancy new automatic and self-cleaning coffee machine 
  • Tickets for everyone to attend a theatre show.
  • Take the team on a team-building or personal development course
  • Install a mini-dishwasher in the staff-room
  • Subscribe to a weekly delivery of fruit and muffins
  • A night out at a high-end restaurant
  • Contract a massage therapist to come in fortnightly for a series of weeks
  • Rotate giving each team member a bonus day off

A reward I provided my team when I had my practice was arranging for a car detailer to come out monthly and clean everyone’s car. It was such a treat for everyone each month to get in their beautifully detailed car and not have to do it themselves.

If you are considering implementing a bonus system in your practice, I urge you to involve your team in what they would find fair, rewarding and motivational. 

One of their primary desires is to enjoy coming to work every day and being part of a caring and supportive team. Having this as the goal will focus your ideas around a system that truly rewards your team for a job well done!