How to Thank Your Staff: Bonuses and Celebrating Accomplishments

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Celebrate the positive of every day with your staff

By Shae E. Minnick, PT, DPT

Have you ever wondered how to say more than just “thank you” to your staff? What holds meaning for them? What would they appreciate? Do they even need a thank you? What about those who go above and beyond? What about the little things that go unnoticed? How often should you acknowledge these accomplishments? How can I afford one more thing?

I have wrestled with these questions and offer to you a smattering of ideas from my playful pediatric world. I must give credit to my Peer2Peer group as well as the Pedsapalooza folks for sending me down such a fun path to rewards, thank yous, pats on the back, and incentive bonuses. The most important item to remember is to explore the ideas and adapt them to make them work for you and your business model and culture. So…let’s have some fun!

We all see our employees in every area of our businesses performing small tasks that possess great meaning. These tasks are noticed but often unacknowledged. Why? Mostly lack of time to stop a minute and say something. For example, taking out the overflowing trash from the staff office or picking up the itty-bitty piece of paper on the floor in the hallway just because it was there, or catching the door for the mom with the double stroller plus a preschooler, or putting more paper in the printer when it is out… I could go on and on.

To show our gratitude for such acts, we created a “Shout Out Board.” What is this you ask? I took an old dry erase board and designated it as the Shout Out Board.

All employees are encouraged to jot down an action whenever they see their colleagues do something special. During the first staff meeting of the month, all the names from the Shout Out Board are written on tickets (one per occurrence). One ticket is drawn. That employee receives a choice of a prize. I set my limit to approximately $25 for the prizes. This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing: I surveyed my employees for ideas for the prizes. We have everything from restaurant gift cards to Disney Ornaments to Godiva Chocolates. Simple idea, yet fun and inspiring! When I have a difficult day, I stand in front of the board and read all the wonderful things my folks are doing.

What about the big items that our employees do? What about letting them recognize each other? Get ready for Spin the Wheel! We have discipline-specific teams and an admin team that meet every other week. The opposite week we have full staff meetings. During the full staff meetings, each team nominates one employee for Spin the Wheel. They must share the story of why this person is being nominated. These range from success stories with kiddos to mentoring moments to helping with a flat tire in the parking lot. I use the app: Wheel of Names. Simply enter the prizes available and one-click spins the wheel. These prizes are around the $5 mark: Panera, Dunkin Donuts, Smoothie King, Chick-Fil-A, candles, car evacuation tool, grill lighter, company mug, candy, to name a few.

More rewards? Absolutely. I have a list of activities with assigned point values including deep cleaning, mentor sessions, presentation of CEU learning, report on articles, being a clinical instructor (points are calculated based upon level and hours not counted toward licensure), creating social media posts, attending a community event in the company shirt, even seasonal decorating of the clinic. I then have three tiers associated with a monetary value. Set your own levels based on your budget. Currently, tier 1 is $25, tier 2 is $50, tier 3 is $75. I pay these out quarterly.

Incentive pay methods appear to be the most recent area many of us are exploring. Choose your statistics to measure and develop required goals to receive the extra pay. Set a reachable goal and make it a game. We are currently in a challenge to increase our billable hours. I have purchased a fundraiser thermometer with dry-erase columns and a ribbon to mark the rise toward the goal. Have fun prizes for individuals reaching a goal and a larger prize for the group when the overall goal is met. Ideas for prizes: company cookout, group movie night, trip/outing, overnight/weekend retreat. Again, survey your employees and stay within your budget.

We have weekly incentive pay for arrival rates, advanced scheduled rates, and end-of-week scheduled rates. My employees work a variety of schedules, so I got creative and pay a bonus amount per hour worked that week to accommodate those who are part-time versus full-time. For example, an arrival rate of 86%-90% receives an additional $1.00 per hour worked that week.

Overall, the most important thing to remember is to make this fun and positive. ASK for ideas, start small, and stay within budget! Game On! 

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Shae E. Minnick, PT, DPT, is an APTA Private Practice member and owner of North Georgia Pediatric Therapies, LLC in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. She can be reached at or via their website

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