Are your employees invisible?


Shine a light on your team members to ensure they feel appreciated and don't fade into the woodwork.

When's the last time you gave someone on your team a pat on the back? Shine a light on your team members to ensure they feel appreciated.

"There is a crisis in business today: the invisible employee," say Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, co-authors of The Invisible Employee: Realizing the Hidden Potential in Everyone (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). Feeling overlooked, ignored, and unappreciated, invisible employees deal with the situation by doing no more than is absolutely required. They often grumble about their job, their boss, or the practice itself—to anyone who will listen to them, including clients.

Bob Levoy

Reality check

How bad is it? An astounding 65 percent of Americans report receiving no recognition for good work in the past year, say Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, co-authors of How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life (Gallup Press, 2004).

The end result: Employees who feel invisible and unappreciated take a heavy toll on morale, productivity, profitability, and practice growth. The sad thing, say Gostick and Elton, is that most managers have no idea about the unhealthy state of their workplaces or the real needs of the people who work there. "And why is that important?" they ask. "Because people who feel appreciated do what they do better." It's that simple.

When is the last time you:

  • thanked an employee at the end of the day for a job well done?

  • gave a staff member a raise without being asked?

  • had fresh flowers delivered to your team after a hectic week at work?

  • sent a fruit basket or small gift to an employee's home in appreciation of his or her extra efforts?

  • sent an e-mail or thank-you note to a staff member who went above and beyond the call of duty?

  • celebrated the achievement of practice goals or the completion of special projects with plenty of public pats on the back?

  • told your staff how important they are to your practice and how much you truly appreciate them?

"It's a quick and easy solution to throw money at our employee problems," say Gostick and Elton, "as if higher salaries will enhance productivity or generate ideas or cultivate customer intimacy." Competitive salaries are important, they say, but going above market won't drive greater performance. In reality, real solutions are much less expensive: Each of your employees wants to be seen, validated, and recognized.

Take action

Think of someone on your team who deserves recognition for an extraordinary effort and send a handwritten note of thanks to his or her home. Tie your message to a core value that's important to your team. Make it specific. Explain exactly what the employee did that was outstanding and moved you closer to your practice goals.

I've seen such notes tacked up on walls, pulled out of wallets, kept in a special place—and, invariably, treasured. Why? Because recognition is so rare.

"Outstanding leaders," said Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, "go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a seminar speaker based in Roslyn, N.Y., who focuses on profitability and practice growth. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2006).

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