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Consider Perks When Crafting Compensation Plans

The Doctor's Office, December 18, 2008

Compensation is far from the only factor employees consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a practice. Consider how your staff would respond to these extras:

Pension plan. Physicians at the Aesthetic Center for Plastic Surgery (ACPS), LLP, in Houston, contribute 100% to the practice's employee pension plan. "Employees don't contribute a dime," says Karen Husmann, MBA, practice administrator at ACPS.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE). A SIMPLE is a tax-favored retirement account for small business owners. Most plans offer an employee salary-deferral contribution feature, along with a mandatory employer contribution. Perakis, Resis, Woods & Associates Behavioral (PRA), LLC, in Schaumburg, IL, matches employees' contribution by up to 3%. "It costs the practice $10,000-plus to match everybody," says Paula M. Comm, MA, LCPC, CADC, PRA's practice administrator.

More vacation for seniority. PRA employees receive three weeks paid vacation once they've been with the practice for five years. "We try to reward people who stay long and make this a place that they can stay," Comm says.

Schedule flexibility. In some circumstances, simply being willing to work with employees who would prefer alternative schedules can bolster morale without cost to the practice. When feasible, Husmann allows employees who request flextime to try it. Flexible scheduling is usually only precluded if the employee's duties are governed by patient flow.

Continuing education. "The doctors are always very generous with continuing education," Husmann says of ACPS physicians. The practice recently sent its five-person skin care staff to New York for a weeklong seminar on skin care, paid entirely by the practice. And if an employee demonstrates an interest in obtaining further education, such as in massage therapy, Husmann will send the employee to school and reimburse the tuition over the first six months the employee uses those skills in the practice. "It's worked beautifully for us," she says.


This article was adapted from one that originally ran in the December 2008 issue of The Doctor's Office, a HealthLeaders Media publication.