I’ve been hearing an expression recently that has piqued my interest: Skin in the game.
It’s not necessarily a new term: It is often used to describe buy-in to the success of an enterprise. Having some kind of risk or reward inherent in the “game” builds motivation, effort and positive outcomes. The usual context is financial and encompasses players like investors, franchisees, partners, and entrepreneurs.
But each time I hear it, I think… Why not employees?
Even if a team is intrinsically motivated to do a good job, I can’t help but wonder how much more productive they could be when inspired by tangible rewards. Incentive programs and performance-based bonus plans are instrumental in driving growth in many industries. A dental practice could derive the same benefits.
Achieving best patient care and optimum oral health are highlight goals for every practice. New patient acquisition is an obvious goal. Organic growth, i.e. developing business from within your existing patient base, can be realized through diligent follow-up and patient relationship building to optimize recall cycles and increase acceptance of recommended treatment. Improved collections and claims processing all impact the bottom line.
There are various models that could be appropriate for your group.
- Revenue-generation compensation plans are common and appropriate in many industries for business development roles. A small percentage of new patient revenue can be pooled to acknowledge admin support of business development activities.
- Profit-sharing plans are effective for celebrating company-wide success on a semi-annual or annual basis.
- Team incentives tied to achievement of specific performance goals are an excellent method to drive immediate results. The frequency keeps the motivation top of mind.
We all enjoy cold, hard cash – even when it is reduced by income tax payable. But softer rewards can be equally effective in promoting morale and practice results. “Employee of the Month” recognition, special perqs like a coveted parking spot, gift cards, team lunches, monthly prizes… these are all proven techniques that inject fun and camaraderie into your workplace.
Whatever the reward, the details of an incentive plan must be well thought out. Some pointers:
- First understand and itemize which specific objectives you want to accomplish.
- Identify your current benchmarks and articulate what you want to improve and by how much.
- Make the goals challenging yet realistic: Make it understood that goals can be changed or increased to maintain momentum and avoid auto-collect.
- Your plan must be fair and reflect the relative contributions of each member of your staff.
- The details and terms must be established, documented, communicated, and understood with clarity.
Finally, the program needs to be carried out with consistency and excitement. Genuine appreciation should accompany the presentation of every reward: sharing success is a win/win/win!