As a business owner, practice manager or sales team leader, you know only too well that a good employee is hard to find. And once you’ve put together a winning team, your efforts need to focus on keeping them motivated and eager to stay with your business.

Many books have been written on the topic of keeping your employees motivated to stay.

In my 25 years of experience in human resource management, the last 12 of which have been in the medical and beauty industry, I believe that the key to retaining staff comes down to three main factors: 1. Employees will stay when they feel they are paid fairly and have regular pay reviews; 2. When they feel their ideas are listened to and their efforts are recognised; 3. And, just as importantly, when the workplace culture is fun and positive.

So, all we need to do is pay our staff well, listen to their ideas, spend time with them on meaningful activities and keep a close eye on what’s going on to ensure everyone is happy!

Sounds simple enough, but who has time to spend on such luxuries when we are busy working on next quarter’s budget and remaining focused on patient and customer needs that drive the business bottom line?, I hear you ask.

There just isn’t enough time in the working week to fit all this in, is a common response of most managers and business owners. While there is no one-stop answer to this common workplace issue, take heart that it is not as difficult as it appears.

If you’re serious about keeping your team motivated and implementing or revamping an existing Reward and Recognition Program in your business, the first step is to understand your employees and discover what they value.

It’s important to understand that not all employees are motivated, or feel rewarded, by the same things. Reward and Recognition Programs vary widely within organisations that seem to be very similar.

The most effective way to discover what your team values is to conduct a brief Employee Survey. Keep in mind that while some employees will be forthcoming about what they want, others will need to be prompted. You can consider a multiple-choice type questionnaire or ask what types of rewards they have found to be motivating in the past. Take into account that the results of this survey will provide the key components to your Reward and Recognition Program while this particular team is in place.

Money Talks

It’s no secret that cold hard cash is a motivator. However, all too often I hear that a terrific employee is looking for work outside their current workplace because they have not had a pay review in two or more years. Or that they would simply like a small recognition for the additional sales they bring to the organisation, in the form of a monthly incentive or commission. And what’s most surprising about this is that they are usually not talking about huge amounts of money.

Annual Salary Reviews

Award employees

Under Fair Work legislation, employees being paid the minimum Award Rate for the role they do will receive an annual increase to the hourly rate on July 1. The Fair Work Commission has announced a 2.4% increase to minimum wages to apply from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2016.

The new national minimum wage will be $17.70 per hour.

Employees paid above award wages

In many cases, employees within medical practices, medical product and device companies, and salons and spas are paid hourly rates or annualised salaries which are above that prescribed by the Award rates of pay.

In this situation it is not always feasible to increase salaries by the same percentage as that gazetted by Fair Work. But it is certainly a good idea to have an annual performance and wage review, providing the employee with feedback on their individual performance as well as the business performance and how this relates to their salary remaining the same or increasing.

While discussions about money can seem to be difficult, retaining an employee in your business and keeping them engaged is directly linked to showing them that you value both them and their efforts.

Providing a relatively small annual increase can and does make the difference between retaining your loyal and trusted employees and having to spend hours searching for a new employee that could possibly only be happy with a much larger hourly rate.

When to Hold Money Talks

Save time and energy by having a set time for Performance and Salary Reviews for all staff in your business.

Holding salary reviews on individual employee anniversaries can be time-consuming and often lead to missing a review due to other demands on the business at the time.

While the start of the new financial year in July is a popular time to hold salary reviews, many medical practices hold their Employee Performance and Salary Reviews in December to review performance throughout the year prior to Christmas closure. Pay increases are discussed and commence the first full pay cycle in the New Year.

An alternative is to hold reviews during the first few weeks back to work in the New Year, when everyone is fresh and feeling positive about the year ahead. This is an ideal opportunity to both reflect on last years performance and start the New Year with a plan for individual and business performance success.

To Increase or Not to Increase

It’s a good idea to lay the foundation that salaries will be reviewed but not necessarily changed each year.

There are a myriad of reasons salaries may not be changed each year. These include a dramatic downturn in business, making it economically unfeasible to increase wages, or when an employee is already being paid well above the award and industry rate for the role they are doing. In the scenario that performance, attitude or attendance has not warranted a pay increase, it is important to communicate this to the employee and outline expectations for the future.

Incentive Plans and Commission

Understandably, many business owners consider the hourly rate or annual salary they pay their staff to include their efforts to sell and up-sell products and procedures.

However, employees generally believe they should be rewarded for this extra effort. We can learn from the managers and leaders of sales teams who fully understand that rewards for additional effort or sales success in the form of incentives or commission is what keeps individuals motivated to strive to do more and to constantly improve on their personal best.

I’ve watched first-hand the delight on employees faces as they are presented with a small yellow envelope at the end-of-month staff meeting, containing a monetary reward for the “extra effort” they have put in, that has resulted in additional sales and revenue for the business.

It is the product and device companies who set realistic sales targets and then diligently pay their employees upon reaching their monthly or quarterly quotas that have the happiest teams and the best retention rates in the industry.

Setting up an incentive or commission structure does not have to be another job for you! This is something that can be delegated to your team. Giving your employees ownership of the project will ensure they are committed to its success.

Reward and Recognition Celebrate Milestones

Whether you have three employees or 303, it is very important to acknowledge their birthdays and work anniversaries.

In smaller teams celebrations can be held on the day for individual employee milestones and in larger teams a monthly celebration can be held to honour employees with birthdays or work anniversaries falling in that month. This is such a simple gesture that never gets old and is always well received and appreciated.

Take a few photos and post these celebrations on your staff notice board or Facebook or Instagram account to show your clients that you have a fun, happy and long-standing team!

Create a Fun Workplace 

For some employees the ability to belong to a fun and relaxed workplace is even more important than money.

Creating the balance between a work environment that is focused on patients, clients and customers and also values the employees is not as difficult as it seems. With just a little preparation and some valuable input from your team, you can be well on your way to having workplace rituals that ensure both a fun and professional workplace, created and driven by your team.

I’m not talking complicated and time-consuming team building activities such as scavenger hunts or falling backwards into each other’s arms. Instead you could try the following:

Leave Early Friday

We all remember the good old ‘early mark’ at school. So target the inner child in all of your employees by allowing a Star Performer for the week or month to leave early on a Friday.

Hold Regular Team Lunches or Dinners

It is an old cliché, but the team that plays together is the team that stays together.

With many employees having to juggle work and home duties, it is not always easy to hold out of office or work-time get-togethers.

However, there can be multiple events throughout the year that can be celebrated in the workplace over lunch or even a simple morning or afternoon tea.

Share Common Causes, Activities or Goals

  • Enter the City to Surf or other fun runs as a team
  • Adopt a Unicef Child and write to him or her on a regular basis
  • Get behind a charity or cause that a staff member is passionate about.
  • By offering a variety of activities and rewards, you stand a greater chance of having a motivator for every personality type on your team and developing all of your employees into top-tier team players.

Lunch with the Boss

Another effective reward is lunch with the owner or manager. Most employees crave one-on-one time with the business owner or senior leaders to share their thoughts or get an inside look into company strategy.

This is also a chance to relate to an individual employee on a mentorship level, ensuring time spent will ultimately pay dividends for everyone.

Provide Career Experiences

Fun and financial rewards will work for some employees however for others the ultimate reward is the opportunity to get ahead in their careers. Managers who offer incentives that help employees develop skills to move to the next level, including giving them your own time, are way ahead of the game when it comes to retaining top performers.

This can extend to providing a training budget for top performers and allowing employees time off work to do courses that will enhance their skills or knowledge.

National sales managers see the advantage of meeting regularly with their reps or having them ‘shadow’ them for a day while making calls, demos, presentations, etc. Not only does this motivate and reward, it also shows you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches.

Start your new financial year by taking a fresh look at how you communicate with, reward and manage your team.

When your goals and your employees’ goals align, only the best things can happen.



About the Author

Lizzy Boots is the Director of Boots & All Consulting and is an experienced human resources professional specialising in recruitment, retention and training strategies for the medical, health and beauty industries.

Bespoke services include: recruitment and selection, human resources support, employee performance management, training and development, policy and procedures, and employment contracts for the niche roles within the medical, health and beauty industry.

Based in Sydney, Lizzy has clients throughout Australia. For details, visit or call +61 414 644 463

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