Data tells us that between 66% and 87% of workers are disengaged. Even at modest salaries, disengagement is costly. Disengaged employees are more absent than engaged employees and significantly less productive and profitable. Eventually, disengaged team members leave, adding additional costs to hire, onboard, and train new team members.
One way to help improve engagement is to ensure each team member feels appreciated for the work they perform. When they do, they are much more likely to work hard and feel a part of a team. If not, they often do just enough to keep from losing their jobs.
You might appreciate your team members to the moon and back, but if they don’t feel appreciated, it might not do much good. In many dental practices, there is a disconnect between how leaders present appreciation versus how team members feel appreciated. To get the best out of your team, we must be sure to show appreciation in the way they feel it. That requires us to express appreciation on an individual basis, too, because people feel appreciation differently.
Here are the four ways team members might feel appreciation. If you have been expressing appreciation in one of more of these without results, a simple switch might be all you need.
Express praise using words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation are praise expressed in words or in writing. If somebody does something well, praise them. And be specific. Don’t just say, “Hey, you did a good job.” Instead, add some specifics, such as, “Great job setting up that marketing campaign. You really knocked it out of the park with that audience targeting!”
The specificity helps in many ways. First, it lets people know you are sincere. You’re not just saying “good job” as a matter of habit. You were paying attention. Second, it lets team members know what behavior to continue doing. In this example, it’s paying attention to audience targeting when setting up dental marketing campaigns.
Giving words of affirmation is the simplest and lowest-cost way to express appreciation to team members. And many team members will feel appreciated when they know your praise is sincere. This is especially true when your words of affirmation are paired with other ways to strengthen your dental practice culture.
Spend quality time with team members.
One of the best ways to improve practice culture is to spend quality time with team members. To some team members, a few minutes of quality time is appreciated more than even monetary rewards. Like most ways to express appreciation, it doesn’t have to be a lot of time. An out-of-office lunch works. Even taking a few minutes to go for a walk around the parking lot to burn some calories and learn about each other personally can help. Many team members appreciate even a few minutes of your undivided attention and quality conversation.
Perform acts of service for team members.
Acts of service is an often misunderstood way to express appreciation, with some people believing it requires performing chores or doing someone else’s job. That’s not true. But the reality is, with some team members, actions speak louder than words.
To those employees, words of affirmation or quality time have only a short-term effect, or none at all. But they will remember the time they were stressed by something at home and you offered to help them with their work so they could get home early.
Give team members small, tangible gifts.
Giving someone a tangible gift is another effective way to express appreciation. Again, this doesn’t need to be anything big. But the more thoughtful you can make the gift, the better. A tangible gift is personal and thoughtful. It could be a ticket to a local sporting event, concert, or play; a gift card to their favorite store, or even a little bit of extra time off after a particularly busy period.
If giving gifts isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Note that only 6% of people report that tangible gifts are their favorite way to be appreciated, and 68% of people reported that they appreciate tangible gifts the least out of these four ways.
Are you appreciating team members the way they feel it?
Don’t let your appreciation land flat. No matter how sincere it is, you might not be presenting your appreciation in a way that resonates with your team members. Find out how your team members like to be appreciated, and appreciate them in that way.
If you want help improving team member engagement at your practice, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program today! There, you and your team can access the best resources and coaches in the dental industry.