What are you planning for your staff this holiday season? December 14, 2022

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Allison Kraemer: To me, a bonus is something that the team is working towards a goal and they get rewarded for meeting that goal. A gift is something that you are giving to your staff and appreciation for digging it out. We know it’s pretty easy. It’s been difficult to hire. Yes, we’re paying staff more but we also expect a lot more from them for it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I am Bethany Fishbein the CEO of the Power Practice and Host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast and I am here with Allison Kramer, aka Allie. And Allison is our Director of Client Services. She’s one of our coaches who works with practices, helping them stay on track and answering all their questions. And we’re here today to talk about all of the questions and issues that come up surrounding holidays and end-of-year celebrations in the office. So Allie, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I know it’s outside your comfort zone. And I appreciate you being here.

Allison Kraemer: Really great to be able to talk to you about all these awesome questions we’re getting about the end of Year holiday. So happy to do it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Thank you. Yeah, it seems like it comes up kind of every year that our clients online just people are talking about what to do for staff for holidays. And you said something before when we were kind of thinking about what to talk about today about why it’s so important to be doing anything in December. Share a little bit about that because I think that’s important.

Allison Kraemer: So I really think it’s important you know, just during this busy time of year, both personally and you know, in work, you know, obviously they’re super busy in December, you know, end of the year use it or lose it all this kind of thing for getting people into the office and life is crazy. And that’s really the workplace I think should really be like a respite almost and like an enjoyable place to come to work. I think you know, with any of your kids stuff and holiday gifts for everybody and shopping, it’s nice to sort of have some certainty of what’s going to happen during the day and really get a really amazing opportunity for you to appreciate your team as you’re getting toward that end of year time.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So with all that like hustle and bustle and craziness going on outside of the office, I like the idea of the office being a respite and we always get questions on whether should we holiday up usually should we Christmas up or office? Do you have a tree? Do you have wreaths? Do you play Santa’s Music the whole time? I know there’s not a right answer. But what are your thoughts on that? 

Allison Kraemer: I think it’s whatever the office feels comfortable with. I mean, if it’s something that you’ve always done, and it’s something that’s important to everybody, then yeah, have at it, but don’t do it. Where it’s a chore. It should be an activity. So maybe if you’re putting up a tree, have everybody do a bring your own ornament personalize it a little bit or kill like those ornaments at the end and maybe give them as a donation to some sort of charity. You know, you can start all over again next year or maybe an arts and crafts project. If your team is really super creative, they can do like a make-your-own-ornament activity, but it shouldn’t be something that’s like they have to do something that they want to that would should make them feel good rather than like another thing on our plate that we have to take care of.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Sometimes there are things that make somebody in the office feel good. They love setting up for Christmas and hanging stockings. And making all these things and then somebody else isn’t into that and they’re kind of the Scrooge to the office. Like it’s hard to find stuff that works for everybody.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, I mean, it all kind of comes back to communication and talking to the team about what should we do this year. You know, if you haven’t had if you haven’t created a tradition already it would be nice to talk to your team member in a one of your staff meetings and say, Hey, let’s come up with some ideas of what we can do to holiday up the office. And maybe we take one idea from everybody and sort of then vote on what feels comfortable for everybody, you know, shouldn’t take too much time. You know, we’re just trying to be like what feels good at the end of the year, I think it’s really nice to do like some sort of gift exchange. I know you do something in your office where it’s sort of you have a sort of like a Secret Santa thing but doesn’t have to be called that where you have a sneaky little partner who’s giving you your gifts that they know that you love and enjoy. So I think it’s, it can be whatever whatever feels good for the entire team. It shouldn’t really be one person making that decision.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I think asking for feedback on that is actually really good advice because we do that. But we actually do it in February, the week before Valentine’s Day we do secret pals. And somebody one year said can we do it again before Christmas? And we asked and overwhelmingly the responses were no like, I don’t want to add one more gift to my list. I don’t want to have to get something for somebody at work. This is too much I’ll play in February, but I don’t want to play now. That was ours. Right? Yeah. So by asking I’m always trying to be sensitive to putting something in that sounds fun and ends up like you said being work instead of fun, that people kind of dread.

Allison Kraemer: Right. And that you certainly don’t want to have them dread something that you’re trying to do something nice for your team. And that I think happens a lot during this time of year we’re in and then it creates sort of like a bitterness from the owner or from the manager like I you know, here, I wanted to do this and I was trying to do something special for them and everybody’s cranky about it. Well, they don’t want to. So you know, we have to find out what feels comfortable for the team and if it’s not going to happen like you said in December when it’s super crazy. Maybe it happens in January. When it gets a little bit quieter towards the end. We’re going to be something that like after that end of Year Holiday letdown. Now they have something else to look forward to at a time when it’s not so crazy.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right. Yeah, I like that. Now I’m thinking we’re really Scrooged. We do our big office holiday party in January every year too.

Allison Kraemer: I have a lot of offices that do that. Absolutely. And I recommend that because then it’s not one more party that you have to go to think about how many holiday parties you have on your calendar in your personal life. It doesn’t make it special.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I like it, so what are some of the things that you see clients doing for holiday parties or end of Year celebrations?

Allison Kraemer: It’s really all over the map to be honest in some of them do it in office during office hours, they close the office for an afternoon and they do it there which may not always be the best if you’re trying to get to a certain goal and you know, you have to put patients in. if they do it on after hours, of which I do have a lot of opposite view. It’s not a thing they have to go through as a thing that you know they’re invited to and their spouses are allowed to come and enjoy some time outside of the office but it’s optional. And we don’t want to make anybody do something that makes them feel uncomfortable or makes them feel like it’s a chore you know and again, it all goes back to the communication piece. We don’t wanna make them feel guilty if they don’t show up, but we’re They’re welcome to come and they do. And ideally you want everybody to want the copy. So whatever is best for that office, and again, the communication, what do they want?

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I mean, there’s so many options there. Then you said there’s not a right answer here. Some of the fun things that I’ve heard from offices are. I have a friend whose office is was always very crafty, and she’s very crafty. So every year they closed an afternoon and did a holiday craft project altogether. And that was their tradition every year and they look forward to it. And I think when you establish stuff like that, you start talking about it. You start to build a team that is more likely to like those kinds of things. And then you start to lose some of the people who just were never into it. And I’m with you like make holiday stuff optional. You don’t have to go but it does create ill feelings if you throw a party and nobody wants to come to it because it’s enough they have to see your face for 40 hours during the week and to hang out with you after it’s like way too much. What’s your thought on bringing significant others versus having a party with just the people in the office?

 

Allison Kraemer: I think it’s kind of a personal like office culture question. I guess. If you built that really great culture with your team and you have you know a lot about your vast family. Are there others and maybe not a significant other or spouse? It’s just your allowed guest, you know, maybe it’s your adult child or you know, maybe there’s I don’t know if there’s an age limit or not, but it doesn’t have to be I feel like they the spouse or significant other maybe have a sense of okay, well I don’t have one so now I feel like I don’t get to bring somebody so I think it just depends upon what the makeup of your team is. Having the awareness that they’ve everybody has a balance and yeah, all of us balance but if it’s something where there’s you know, we don’t know what everybody’s personal life is, and you don’t talk about personal life in the office, then have it just be your team. I think it really just depends on who’s on your staff and what that culture is and how much you know about them. Ideally, you know a lot about them and you want them to bring their guests and make it fun for for everybody with additional people because it’s a party that should be fun.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: It’s always fun to meet the people that they’re with outside of work and sometimes they drink a little bit and then you find out what that person is saying about the workplace at home. Those are some of my favorites. 

Allison Kraemer: A little tricky. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Favorite funny office memories, generally very positive, but I’ve learned a few things about myself from the plus one of our staff members after a few drinks.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, and interestingly enough, I mean, you have you worked in an office with your spouse, and then I work with a lot of offices that have their spouses work together. So I think it depends upon like what that leadership is and what the makeup of your team is, but there’s no like,we’ve said it a few times there’s no right answer, as long as we’re making it enjoyable. And if you have a good culture in your office, your staff is going to want to spend time with you outside of the office. It’s fun. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We get it every once in a while and I’ve seen it come up in other places to where there will be a team member who for religious reasons, is not interested or allowed to participate in any type of holiday celebrations. How have you seen offices get around that? They want to include everybody and you know, it can’t be called Christmas? It can’t be called Holiday. 

Allison Kraemer: Just call it a get-together, and a year get-together to celebrate our success. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Make it sound easy. So the other big thing that comes up is how. So our office gets a ton of presents from the offices that we refer to like the retina specialist that we use all the time, the cataract group we use all the time. Since a thank you and they’ve gotten less extravagant over the years hopefully they’re not listening as they know they have it’s you know, budgets and everything. But it used to be this you know, giant basket of a couple of bottles of wine and cheese and some kind of salami and I don’t know whatever thing they send, do officers have rules or ways to figure out who gets those?

Allison Kraemer: I don’t think there’s rules about anything I if you’ve worked with me or you know me I am all about rewarding your staff as much as you possibly can. Especially if you’ve been doing the work and giving them the feedback and they’re doing their jobs consensually and they’re helping you and they’re your frontline always all about sharing with the staff that maybe a little bit fits in one big basket, it’s hard to sort of break that up evenly. So maybe at your end-of-year holiday get-together, whatever we’re gonna call it. You do like a little raffle where everybody gets a ticket and it makes it a little bit more fun. I think taking it home and gearing up for yourself is a little bit selfish. Because it’s your staff is really helping you with that referral process too. But that’s just me.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: In most offices, the team gets more excited about the bottle of wine and fancy chocolates, than the owner does and so it’s nice that they look forward to it. We heard it after Thanksgiving in our office, some of the more seasoned staff telling the new staff Oh, just wait. It’s going to start there’s going to be chocolate back here all the time. And kind of fun. It’s something they look forward to.

Allison Kraemer: As long as they’re not drinking that bottle of wine in the office. It’s totally fine to share with them.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We try to save that for at least after lunch. So you mentioned Staff Appreciation, talk about ways that people are rewarding their team at the end of the year because I feel like that’s the one that comes up over and over and over again. What should I do for the Christmas bonus? What do I give?

Allison Kraemer: Right. So I think its perfect to establish what a bonus is versus what a gift is. To me a bonus is something that the team is working for a goal and they get rewarded for meeting that goal. A gift is something that you are giving to your staff as appreciation for digging it out. Well you know, it’s crazy. It’s been difficult to hire. Yes, we’re paying staff more but we also expect a lot more from them for it. So I think you know, what I’ve been recommending this earlier in the year is to really when you’re sitting down with one-on-one with your team members to find out like what they’re likes, their wants are so we’re not just giving them like a catch work. And putting in their paycheck at night and they don’t even really notice it but I think to have a gift it’s finding out like what your favorite chocolate is. What is your, Do you like to go to the spa? Do you like to get your nails done? So you know a lot enough information about each of your team members. You can really personalize those gifts based on the information that they’ve given. You during a previous meeting. So while you spend the same amount of money for everybody, maybe it’s a gift card to the boss or one staff member maybe it’s a gift card to their favorite restaurant for another staff member showing that you actually know what they like and care about the things that they enjoy. I feel like if you give them money, they’re going to spend it on other things in the household. So I think it’s nice to force them to do something that they appreciate. If they have a favorite jewelry store, then that’s the good part that they get. So I think knowing your team and rewarding them appropriately with something that they really enjoy is the best way to do it. And that’s the gift part.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: You mentioned it cost the same amount of money, in general, you’re finding that people are spending the same amount of money on each of the staff members or the people who have worked there longer or make higher salaries tend to get more how do people figure that out?

Allison Kraemer: I think you can give a little extra maybe to the office manager or to your maybe your leadership team but I personally feel like this is a gift. They all work there. They’re all a team. Why are we basing their holiday gifts on how many hours they work in the day? I feel like it’s truly like a gift, you would never do with your family members like okay, well I like this kid better than them and I forgive or like it just has to be let me depends on the day. But yeah, I mean, I think I think it’s important. They’re gonna compare you know, they’re gonna compare notes or the you know, if you’re giving it a big whatever end of your get together, they see what everybody else is getting. So certainly you wouldn’t want to do something different, you know, one level that this person will level the other person I’m an evil person. I don’t know that’s how I feel about it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I’ve got that Charlie Brown episode in my head where you’ve got one staff member opening oh my gosh a $300 gift card to this local spa and then you’ve got the brand new part-timer next to them like I got a rock. That’s yeah. That’s what I’m envisioning when he’s made. 

Allison Kraemer: Yeah,that’s how Yeah and how bad does that feel? So now you’re creating animosity from that new staff member who got their rock and less than one on their favorite sheet? I don’t know. But yeah, if the favorite thing is a rock and that’s great for them, but you know, I feel like it’s that’s a perfect time for you to welcome new new person welcome them to the team. You know, even with holiday pay, like paid time off and holiday pay, like I have to get it started right when they start like it just doesn’t feel good. When you’re joining a team, you’ve maybe left another job and now you’re you’re not getting rewarded for that time off the way that everybody else is. It’s really in the grand scheme of things not a huge amount of money. But it is a good feeling in the office.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you have a rule of thumb for how much money that should be? Or how much value that gift should have?

Allison Kraemer: I do not have a rule of thumb I usually talk about it with each individual office and really kind of look at their numbers and their payroll and what they can afford. You know, a lot of times you know, I would say it’s probably around you $100-$200, some do more some do less, if it’s a brand new off and you’re really struggling you still want to give them something but you don’t want to break the bank and giving them their gift. I’d rather for that back to bonus because I’d rather create a bonus structure or a fun little game that they can get a monetary reward and get bonus on that though. It’s twofold.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay, stick on gifts for a minute because one of the things you said is this should be fun. And you know me I’m not a huge gift person. That part is not fun for me. So the idea of getting everybody individual gifts cards that suit their preferences. I’m like no, absolutely not. I agree with you. That’s very lovely. I’m not I just know myself I’m not going to do it so.

Allison Kraemer: Well, You wouldn’t do it now. Like what I’ve been recommended earlier in the year like let’s start getting to know your team when you when you hire them. I have them do like a favorite cheat like you know when your kids used to go to like elementary school and you get different teachers Appreciation Week, you know, their favorite color or where they like to get their coffee and that’s what you refer to when you want to give little rewards throughout the year. So it’s not just for the gift giving for the holidays. It’s also gift giving for you know, Hey, you did a great job on that your favorite candy bar type of thing. So if I don’t like Reese’s peanut butter cups, and my boss gives me a Reese’s peanut butter cup. I love Reese peanut butter cup by the way. I’m not going to be as appreciative of that little pick-me-up if it wasn’t my preference.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Or if you have a life-threatening peanut allergy. right

Allison Kraemer: Correct Correct, yeah

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We do that favorite sheet also like I have the information it and we can actually share that that’s something that we pulled just online and free resource from somebody else. But if you want to email us at info@powerpractice.com  we’ll send it to you too. So you have it for next year. But if I’m if I say you know what, I’m gonna get money. Is it better to give cash like you said, you put it in the paycheck they don’t even notice. I think that’s probably true. What are some of the options to give money in the way that it’s actually going to be appreciated?

Allison Kraemer: So it can be cash or it can be you know, we don’t want to do individual gift cards. It could be just the visa gift cards. I know it’s annoying that they’re an extra $5 that you have to pay for their processing fee or whatever it is now but I think it makes it a little bit more special that they have something in an envelope maybe you give them I hate to say wine or something because people don’t drink and you don’t want to have to like make them feel weird about it. But something else with that little you know, a little gift bag that includes a gift card that they can use at their leisure to wherever they want to go

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And do you know maybe it’s not even enough for that amount to deal with but like are there tax concerns that you have to worry about? Because he gave that

Allison Kraemer: I mean, you can put it up as an office expense and just purchase it through the office of expense. I’m no CPA, I don’t really know the answer to that. But I think it’s nice to give something tangible. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. I like that. I like presents, right? Just something to him. So you said something before about traditions and I want to talk about holiday traditions because a couple of weeks ago, Lisa Little was on the podcast, and she talked about the importance of having traditions with your team. And as we’re having this conversation, it feels like just such an easy time of year to start to do things that can become those fun things. Just like in your house that people expect every year. I haven’t met an office yet that does the elf on the shelf thing. I do not know business owners that have time to make the elf create mischief in the office. But what are some fun holiday or end-of-year traditions? That you’ve seen with people? 

Allison Kraemer: So I think a lot of offices come together and do something like a charity event or they collect a toy drive for the favorite charity that would be previously discussed as a team of you know what’s important. So I think that can be a really special one. It doesn’t take a lot of time out of the office to just create sort of like just giving feeling at this time of year. And I think that that’s really a good one that just to better your community and, you know, be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I like that idea. I worked at an office once that would take a collection give to give anonymously to one of their patients that they had just found out during the year was struggling, that they would just come up with a basket of food and a bunch of gift cards and kind of anonymously dropped it off at somebody. Yeah, I always thought that was nice, because it’s very much not even in your geographic community. But in your office community.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, absolutely. Even better, even better.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: What are some other holiday traditions that you’ve seen?

Allison Kraemer: I mean, I think some offices, certainly the holiday get-togethers and then maybe some of the fun games that they do. You know, we already talked about sort of gift exchanges, secret santa importation, if that’s something the office wants to do, I think that you know, we talked about earlier making making ornaments, you know, and doing something like that could be a fun tradition or ornament exchange, like it doesn’t have to be a huge, big thing. It can be something super simple. And if you start talking about it, you know in November hey we’re going to do our traditional ornament exchange in such and such a day, they have plenty of time to get it done before the chaos ensues.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Unless they’re me and then the night before the ornament is to their Walmart at 11:59 pm trying to figure out something. 

Allison Kraemer: Well, Amazon can get things to you very quickly now, as I’m sure you know, so sometimes by four o’clock the next morning, so yeah.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s what I need in my life. So just you talked about gifts versus bonuses. And so this is all gifts, but you mentioned bonuses and one of the other things that I see doctors thinking about this time of year is how do we plan for our teams for next year, right because the end of the year, in addition to all the holiday stuff, everybody does kind of a mental like taking stock of what we’ve done what we still want to do, what are some things that besides the fun stuff people should be thinking about as the year closes down, and they get ready to start the next one?

Allison Kraemer: So it’s definitely important to start goal setting and start thinking about what do you want to do and it goes back to knowing your vision and what you’re what you’re passionate about. You know, if you’ve started maybe a specialty What did that look like for next year? And how does that contribute to the growth of the practice? We definitely talked a lot about budgeting and forecasting with our clients and I know we’ll we’ll cover that in another on another meeting. But you know, it’s just putting betting that in their brain start thinking about like, even on the weekend, like what do you want this to look like? Next year and not just pick a percentage out of the air like I want to I want to grow by 10% and 12% like how we need to really talk about how we’re going to get there and whether or not we want to set a bonus structure for the team in place. I’m big on bonuses, quarterly bonuses, when you set a goal and then you give them some percentage above and beyond that goal that you want to meet so that they have some vested interest in it. So that’s all grieving for the practice. And it’s a really great opportunity to share in the success with the team members and kind of create excitement. Like if they don’t know about the numbers, and we’re not talking about it. How do they know where we’re trying to go? So you know, I’ve said it already a few times, but it all goes back to communication and the goal setting and then having those meetings with them and telling them you know, here’s what our goal is, here’s where we’re at, here’s what you guys want to be in order to, you know, share in some of that success and reporting on that on a regular basis and then at the end of the quarters celebrating the win, or is they what we’ve done better. What can we do next quarter to meet that goal and make a little extra cash. That’s the bonus that I like to do, as a full team bonus. Everybody’s part of the game.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Well thank you for that because you segue nicely into our next week’s podcast episode about year-end budgeting and goal setting. I think you’ve also set yourself up for potentially another episode on setting up a bonus system and how that can work for staff. So we’ll get that on the calendar for early next year. If you’ve got things that you’re thinking about at the end of the year that you want to accomplish next year and you want a great team by your side to be able to advise you and make sure you’re moving in the right direction. Please take a look at our website https://powerpractice.com. I wish you very happy holidays if you celebrate, but we’ve got one or two more episodes coming in before then. So I won’t say it all just yet. Allie, thank you so much for doing this with me. I think it’s an interesting conversation. Being in one office as most practice owners are they don’t really get a feel for what people are doing outside of their own office. And it’s just interesting to hear some of the different ideas. So I appreciate you being here and taking your time. 

Allison Kraemer: Thanks. It’s been great to be here. And happy holidays to everybody out there.

 

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Allison Kraemer: To me, a bonus is something that the team is working towards a goal and they get rewarded for meeting that goal. A gift is something that you are giving to your staff and appreciation for digging it out. We know it’s pretty easy. It’s been difficult to hire. Yes, we’re paying staff more but we also expect a lot more from them for it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I am Bethany Fishbein the CEO of the Power Practice and Host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast and I am here with Allison Kramer, aka Allie. And Allison is our Director of Client Services. She’s one of our coaches who works with practices, helping them stay on track and answering all their questions. And we’re here today to talk about all of the questions and issues that come up surrounding holidays and end-of-year celebrations in the office. So Allie, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I know it’s outside your comfort zone. And I appreciate you being here.

Allison Kraemer: Really great to be able to talk to you about all these awesome questions we’re getting about the end of Year holiday. So happy to do it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Thank you. Yeah, it seems like it comes up kind of every year that our clients online just people are talking about what to do for staff for holidays. And you said something before when we were kind of thinking about what to talk about today about why it’s so important to be doing anything in December. Share a little bit about that because I think that’s important.

Allison Kraemer: So I really think it’s important you know, just during this busy time of year, both personally and you know, in work, you know, obviously they’re super busy in December, you know, end of the year use it or lose it all this kind of thing for getting people into the office and life is crazy. And that’s really the workplace I think should really be like a respite almost and like an enjoyable place to come to work. I think you know, with any of your kids stuff and holiday gifts for everybody and shopping, it’s nice to sort of have some certainty of what’s going to happen during the day and really get a really amazing opportunity for you to appreciate your team as you’re getting toward that end of year time.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So with all that like hustle and bustle and craziness going on outside of the office, I like the idea of the office being a respite and we always get questions on whether should we holiday up usually should we Christmas up or office? Do you have a tree? Do you have wreaths? Do you play Santa’s Music the whole time? I know there’s not a right answer. But what are your thoughts on that? 

Allison Kraemer: I think it’s whatever the office feels comfortable with. I mean, if it’s something that you’ve always done, and it’s something that’s important to everybody, then yeah, have at it, but don’t do it. Where it’s a chore. It should be an activity. So maybe if you’re putting up a tree, have everybody do a bring your own ornament personalize it a little bit or kill like those ornaments at the end and maybe give them as a donation to some sort of charity. You know, you can start all over again next year or maybe an arts and crafts project. If your team is really super creative, they can do like a make-your-own-ornament activity, but it shouldn’t be something that’s like they have to do something that they want to that would should make them feel good rather than like another thing on our plate that we have to take care of.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Sometimes there are things that make somebody in the office feel good. They love setting up for Christmas and hanging stockings. And making all these things and then somebody else isn’t into that and they’re kind of the Scrooge to the office. Like it’s hard to find stuff that works for everybody.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, I mean, it all kind of comes back to communication and talking to the team about what should we do this year. You know, if you haven’t had if you haven’t created a tradition already it would be nice to talk to your team member in a one of your staff meetings and say, Hey, let’s come up with some ideas of what we can do to holiday up the office. And maybe we take one idea from everybody and sort of then vote on what feels comfortable for everybody, you know, shouldn’t take too much time. You know, we’re just trying to be like what feels good at the end of the year, I think it’s really nice to do like some sort of gift exchange. I know you do something in your office where it’s sort of you have a sort of like a Secret Santa thing but doesn’t have to be called that where you have a sneaky little partner who’s giving you your gifts that they know that you love and enjoy. So I think it’s, it can be whatever whatever feels good for the entire team. It shouldn’t really be one person making that decision.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I think asking for feedback on that is actually really good advice because we do that. But we actually do it in February, the week before Valentine’s Day we do secret pals. And somebody one year said can we do it again before Christmas? And we asked and overwhelmingly the responses were no like, I don’t want to add one more gift to my list. I don’t want to have to get something for somebody at work. This is too much I’ll play in February, but I don’t want to play now. That was ours. Right? Yeah. So by asking I’m always trying to be sensitive to putting something in that sounds fun and ends up like you said being work instead of fun, that people kind of dread.

Allison Kraemer: Right. And that you certainly don’t want to have them dread something that you’re trying to do something nice for your team. And that I think happens a lot during this time of year we’re in and then it creates sort of like a bitterness from the owner or from the manager like I you know, here, I wanted to do this and I was trying to do something special for them and everybody’s cranky about it. Well, they don’t want to. So you know, we have to find out what feels comfortable for the team and if it’s not going to happen like you said in December when it’s super crazy. Maybe it happens in January. When it gets a little bit quieter towards the end. We’re going to be something that like after that end of Year Holiday letdown. Now they have something else to look forward to at a time when it’s not so crazy.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right. Yeah, I like that. Now I’m thinking we’re really Scrooged. We do our big office holiday party in January every year too.

Allison Kraemer: I have a lot of offices that do that. Absolutely. And I recommend that because then it’s not one more party that you have to go to think about how many holiday parties you have on your calendar in your personal life. It doesn’t make it special.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I like it, so what are some of the things that you see clients doing for holiday parties or end of Year celebrations?

Allison Kraemer: It’s really all over the map to be honest in some of them do it in office during office hours, they close the office for an afternoon and they do it there which may not always be the best if you’re trying to get to a certain goal and you know, you have to put patients in. if they do it on after hours, of which I do have a lot of opposite view. It’s not a thing they have to go through as a thing that you know they’re invited to and their spouses are allowed to come and enjoy some time outside of the office but it’s optional. And we don’t want to make anybody do something that makes them feel uncomfortable or makes them feel like it’s a chore you know and again, it all goes back to the communication piece. We don’t wanna make them feel guilty if they don’t show up, but we’re They’re welcome to come and they do. And ideally you want everybody to want the copy. So whatever is best for that office, and again, the communication, what do they want?

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I mean, there’s so many options there. Then you said there’s not a right answer here. Some of the fun things that I’ve heard from offices are. I have a friend whose office is was always very crafty, and she’s very crafty. So every year they closed an afternoon and did a holiday craft project altogether. And that was their tradition every year and they look forward to it. And I think when you establish stuff like that, you start talking about it. You start to build a team that is more likely to like those kinds of things. And then you start to lose some of the people who just were never into it. And I’m with you like make holiday stuff optional. You don’t have to go but it does create ill feelings if you throw a party and nobody wants to come to it because it’s enough they have to see your face for 40 hours during the week and to hang out with you after it’s like way too much. What’s your thought on bringing significant others versus having a party with just the people in the office?

 

Allison Kraemer: I think it’s kind of a personal like office culture question. I guess. If you built that really great culture with your team and you have you know a lot about your vast family. Are there others and maybe not a significant other or spouse? It’s just your allowed guest, you know, maybe it’s your adult child or you know, maybe there’s I don’t know if there’s an age limit or not, but it doesn’t have to be I feel like they the spouse or significant other maybe have a sense of okay, well I don’t have one so now I feel like I don’t get to bring somebody so I think it just depends upon what the makeup of your team is. Having the awareness that they’ve everybody has a balance and yeah, all of us balance but if it’s something where there’s you know, we don’t know what everybody’s personal life is, and you don’t talk about personal life in the office, then have it just be your team. I think it really just depends on who’s on your staff and what that culture is and how much you know about them. Ideally, you know a lot about them and you want them to bring their guests and make it fun for for everybody with additional people because it’s a party that should be fun.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: It’s always fun to meet the people that they’re with outside of work and sometimes they drink a little bit and then you find out what that person is saying about the workplace at home. Those are some of my favorites. 

Allison Kraemer: A little tricky. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Favorite funny office memories, generally very positive, but I’ve learned a few things about myself from the plus one of our staff members after a few drinks.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, and interestingly enough, I mean, you have you worked in an office with your spouse, and then I work with a lot of offices that have their spouses work together. So I think it depends upon like what that leadership is and what the makeup of your team is, but there’s no like,we’ve said it a few times there’s no right answer, as long as we’re making it enjoyable. And if you have a good culture in your office, your staff is going to want to spend time with you outside of the office. It’s fun. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We get it every once in a while and I’ve seen it come up in other places to where there will be a team member who for religious reasons, is not interested or allowed to participate in any type of holiday celebrations. How have you seen offices get around that? They want to include everybody and you know, it can’t be called Christmas? It can’t be called Holiday. 

Allison Kraemer: Just call it a get-together, and a year get-together to celebrate our success. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Make it sound easy. So the other big thing that comes up is how. So our office gets a ton of presents from the offices that we refer to like the retina specialist that we use all the time, the cataract group we use all the time. Since a thank you and they’ve gotten less extravagant over the years hopefully they’re not listening as they know they have it’s you know, budgets and everything. But it used to be this you know, giant basket of a couple of bottles of wine and cheese and some kind of salami and I don’t know whatever thing they send, do officers have rules or ways to figure out who gets those?

Allison Kraemer: I don’t think there’s rules about anything I if you’ve worked with me or you know me I am all about rewarding your staff as much as you possibly can. Especially if you’ve been doing the work and giving them the feedback and they’re doing their jobs consensually and they’re helping you and they’re your frontline always all about sharing with the staff that maybe a little bit fits in one big basket, it’s hard to sort of break that up evenly. So maybe at your end-of-year holiday get-together, whatever we’re gonna call it. You do like a little raffle where everybody gets a ticket and it makes it a little bit more fun. I think taking it home and gearing up for yourself is a little bit selfish. Because it’s your staff is really helping you with that referral process too. But that’s just me.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: In most offices, the team gets more excited about the bottle of wine and fancy chocolates, than the owner does and so it’s nice that they look forward to it. We heard it after Thanksgiving in our office, some of the more seasoned staff telling the new staff Oh, just wait. It’s going to start there’s going to be chocolate back here all the time. And kind of fun. It’s something they look forward to.

Allison Kraemer: As long as they’re not drinking that bottle of wine in the office. It’s totally fine to share with them.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We try to save that for at least after lunch. So you mentioned Staff Appreciation, talk about ways that people are rewarding their team at the end of the year because I feel like that’s the one that comes up over and over and over again. What should I do for the Christmas bonus? What do I give?

Allison Kraemer: Right. So I think its perfect to establish what a bonus is versus what a gift is. To me a bonus is something that the team is working for a goal and they get rewarded for meeting that goal. A gift is something that you are giving to your staff as appreciation for digging it out. Well you know, it’s crazy. It’s been difficult to hire. Yes, we’re paying staff more but we also expect a lot more from them for it. So I think you know, what I’ve been recommending this earlier in the year is to really when you’re sitting down with one-on-one with your team members to find out like what they’re likes, their wants are so we’re not just giving them like a catch work. And putting in their paycheck at night and they don’t even really notice it but I think to have a gift it’s finding out like what your favorite chocolate is. What is your, Do you like to go to the spa? Do you like to get your nails done? So you know a lot enough information about each of your team members. You can really personalize those gifts based on the information that they’ve given. You during a previous meeting. So while you spend the same amount of money for everybody, maybe it’s a gift card to the boss or one staff member maybe it’s a gift card to their favorite restaurant for another staff member showing that you actually know what they like and care about the things that they enjoy. I feel like if you give them money, they’re going to spend it on other things in the household. So I think it’s nice to force them to do something that they appreciate. If they have a favorite jewelry store, then that’s the good part that they get. So I think knowing your team and rewarding them appropriately with something that they really enjoy is the best way to do it. And that’s the gift part.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: You mentioned it cost the same amount of money, in general, you’re finding that people are spending the same amount of money on each of the staff members or the people who have worked there longer or make higher salaries tend to get more how do people figure that out?

Allison Kraemer: I think you can give a little extra maybe to the office manager or to your maybe your leadership team but I personally feel like this is a gift. They all work there. They’re all a team. Why are we basing their holiday gifts on how many hours they work in the day? I feel like it’s truly like a gift, you would never do with your family members like okay, well I like this kid better than them and I forgive or like it just has to be let me depends on the day. But yeah, I mean, I think I think it’s important. They’re gonna compare you know, they’re gonna compare notes or the you know, if you’re giving it a big whatever end of your get together, they see what everybody else is getting. So certainly you wouldn’t want to do something different, you know, one level that this person will level the other person I’m an evil person. I don’t know that’s how I feel about it.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I’ve got that Charlie Brown episode in my head where you’ve got one staff member opening oh my gosh a $300 gift card to this local spa and then you’ve got the brand new part-timer next to them like I got a rock. That’s yeah. That’s what I’m envisioning when he’s made. 

Allison Kraemer: Yeah,that’s how Yeah and how bad does that feel? So now you’re creating animosity from that new staff member who got their rock and less than one on their favorite sheet? I don’t know. But yeah, if the favorite thing is a rock and that’s great for them, but you know, I feel like it’s that’s a perfect time for you to welcome new new person welcome them to the team. You know, even with holiday pay, like paid time off and holiday pay, like I have to get it started right when they start like it just doesn’t feel good. When you’re joining a team, you’ve maybe left another job and now you’re you’re not getting rewarded for that time off the way that everybody else is. It’s really in the grand scheme of things not a huge amount of money. But it is a good feeling in the office.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you have a rule of thumb for how much money that should be? Or how much value that gift should have?

Allison Kraemer: I do not have a rule of thumb I usually talk about it with each individual office and really kind of look at their numbers and their payroll and what they can afford. You know, a lot of times you know, I would say it’s probably around you $100-$200, some do more some do less, if it’s a brand new off and you’re really struggling you still want to give them something but you don’t want to break the bank and giving them their gift. I’d rather for that back to bonus because I’d rather create a bonus structure or a fun little game that they can get a monetary reward and get bonus on that though. It’s twofold.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay, stick on gifts for a minute because one of the things you said is this should be fun. And you know me I’m not a huge gift person. That part is not fun for me. So the idea of getting everybody individual gifts cards that suit their preferences. I’m like no, absolutely not. I agree with you. That’s very lovely. I’m not I just know myself I’m not going to do it so.

Allison Kraemer: Well, You wouldn’t do it now. Like what I’ve been recommended earlier in the year like let’s start getting to know your team when you when you hire them. I have them do like a favorite cheat like you know when your kids used to go to like elementary school and you get different teachers Appreciation Week, you know, their favorite color or where they like to get their coffee and that’s what you refer to when you want to give little rewards throughout the year. So it’s not just for the gift giving for the holidays. It’s also gift giving for you know, Hey, you did a great job on that your favorite candy bar type of thing. So if I don’t like Reese’s peanut butter cups, and my boss gives me a Reese’s peanut butter cup. I love Reese peanut butter cup by the way. I’m not going to be as appreciative of that little pick-me-up if it wasn’t my preference.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Or if you have a life-threatening peanut allergy. right

Allison Kraemer: Correct Correct, yeah

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: We do that favorite sheet also like I have the information it and we can actually share that that’s something that we pulled just online and free resource from somebody else. But if you want to email us at info@powerpractice.com  we’ll send it to you too. So you have it for next year. But if I’m if I say you know what, I’m gonna get money. Is it better to give cash like you said, you put it in the paycheck they don’t even notice. I think that’s probably true. What are some of the options to give money in the way that it’s actually going to be appreciated?

Allison Kraemer: So it can be cash or it can be you know, we don’t want to do individual gift cards. It could be just the visa gift cards. I know it’s annoying that they’re an extra $5 that you have to pay for their processing fee or whatever it is now but I think it makes it a little bit more special that they have something in an envelope maybe you give them I hate to say wine or something because people don’t drink and you don’t want to have to like make them feel weird about it. But something else with that little you know, a little gift bag that includes a gift card that they can use at their leisure to wherever they want to go

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And do you know maybe it’s not even enough for that amount to deal with but like are there tax concerns that you have to worry about? Because he gave that

Allison Kraemer: I mean, you can put it up as an office expense and just purchase it through the office of expense. I’m no CPA, I don’t really know the answer to that. But I think it’s nice to give something tangible. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. I like that. I like presents, right? Just something to him. So you said something before about traditions and I want to talk about holiday traditions because a couple of weeks ago, Lisa Little was on the podcast, and she talked about the importance of having traditions with your team. And as we’re having this conversation, it feels like just such an easy time of year to start to do things that can become those fun things. Just like in your house that people expect every year. I haven’t met an office yet that does the elf on the shelf thing. I do not know business owners that have time to make the elf create mischief in the office. But what are some fun holiday or end-of-year traditions? That you’ve seen with people? 

Allison Kraemer: So I think a lot of offices come together and do something like a charity event or they collect a toy drive for the favorite charity that would be previously discussed as a team of you know what’s important. So I think that can be a really special one. It doesn’t take a lot of time out of the office to just create sort of like just giving feeling at this time of year. And I think that that’s really a good one that just to better your community and, you know, be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I like that idea. I worked at an office once that would take a collection give to give anonymously to one of their patients that they had just found out during the year was struggling, that they would just come up with a basket of food and a bunch of gift cards and kind of anonymously dropped it off at somebody. Yeah, I always thought that was nice, because it’s very much not even in your geographic community. But in your office community.

Allison Kraemer: Yeah, absolutely. Even better, even better.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: What are some other holiday traditions that you’ve seen?

Allison Kraemer: I mean, I think some offices, certainly the holiday get-togethers and then maybe some of the fun games that they do. You know, we already talked about sort of gift exchanges, secret santa importation, if that’s something the office wants to do, I think that you know, we talked about earlier making making ornaments, you know, and doing something like that could be a fun tradition or ornament exchange, like it doesn’t have to be a huge, big thing. It can be something super simple. And if you start talking about it, you know in November hey we’re going to do our traditional ornament exchange in such and such a day, they have plenty of time to get it done before the chaos ensues.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Unless they’re me and then the night before the ornament is to their Walmart at 11:59 pm trying to figure out something. 

Allison Kraemer: Well, Amazon can get things to you very quickly now, as I’m sure you know, so sometimes by four o’clock the next morning, so yeah.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s what I need in my life. So just you talked about gifts versus bonuses. And so this is all gifts, but you mentioned bonuses and one of the other things that I see doctors thinking about this time of year is how do we plan for our teams for next year, right because the end of the year, in addition to all the holiday stuff, everybody does kind of a mental like taking stock of what we’ve done what we still want to do, what are some things that besides the fun stuff people should be thinking about as the year closes down, and they get ready to start the next one?

Allison Kraemer: So it’s definitely important to start goal setting and start thinking about what do you want to do and it goes back to knowing your vision and what you’re what you’re passionate about. You know, if you’ve started maybe a specialty What did that look like for next year? And how does that contribute to the growth of the practice? We definitely talked a lot about budgeting and forecasting with our clients and I know we’ll we’ll cover that in another on another meeting. But you know, it’s just putting betting that in their brain start thinking about like, even on the weekend, like what do you want this to look like? Next year and not just pick a percentage out of the air like I want to I want to grow by 10% and 12% like how we need to really talk about how we’re going to get there and whether or not we want to set a bonus structure for the team in place. I’m big on bonuses, quarterly bonuses, when you set a goal and then you give them some percentage above and beyond that goal that you want to meet so that they have some vested interest in it. So that’s all grieving for the practice. And it’s a really great opportunity to share in the success with the team members and kind of create excitement. Like if they don’t know about the numbers, and we’re not talking about it. How do they know where we’re trying to go? So you know, I’ve said it already a few times, but it all goes back to communication and the goal setting and then having those meetings with them and telling them you know, here’s what our goal is, here’s where we’re at, here’s what you guys want to be in order to, you know, share in some of that success and reporting on that on a regular basis and then at the end of the quarters celebrating the win, or is they what we’ve done better. What can we do next quarter to meet that goal and make a little extra cash. That’s the bonus that I like to do, as a full team bonus. Everybody’s part of the game.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Well thank you for that because you segue nicely into our next week’s podcast episode about year-end budgeting and goal setting. I think you’ve also set yourself up for potentially another episode on setting up a bonus system and how that can work for staff. So we’ll get that on the calendar for early next year. If you’ve got things that you’re thinking about at the end of the year that you want to accomplish next year and you want a great team by your side to be able to advise you and make sure you’re moving in the right direction. Please take a look at our website https://powerpractice.com. I wish you very happy holidays if you celebrate, but we’ve got one or two more episodes coming in before then. So I won’t say it all just yet. Allie, thank you so much for doing this with me. I think it’s an interesting conversation. Being in one office as most practice owners are they don’t really get a feel for what people are doing outside of their own office. And it’s just interesting to hear some of the different ideas. So I appreciate you being here and taking your time. 

Allison Kraemer: Thanks. It’s been great to be here. And happy holidays to everybody out there.