Nine Simple Ways to Increase Staff Productivity

As a provider, therapist, or clinical manager of a busy behavioral health practice, you are proud of the work you accomplish every day. Patients, clients and families alike put their trust in you, and you do your best to provide the best mental health and substance use care possible.

You also understand that your organization would not run nearly as smoothly as it does without the help of your hard-working staff. They are the people who handle a myriad of tasks behind the scenes, often using state-of-the-art technology to manage their day.

Because your staff is so important to the overall success of your organization, you want to do everything you can to ensure that everyone’s morale is high and that productivity is at its best. While providing your staff with outstanding technology is important, you know that a happy and productive workplace goes beyond gadgets, to a solid and supportive culture where everyone is valued.

Fortunately, it is more than possible to boost your staff’s productivity and morale — consider the following nine methods:

1. Put the Right People in the Right Seats

In an office setting, there can sometimes be a tendency to award positions based on seniority. Unfortunately, this approach can be very demoralizing to your entire staff. A better approach is to assign positions and promotions based on ability and merit. As Zenefits notes, knowing your employees’ skills and behavioral styles is key for maximizing staff productivity. For instance, in a busy agency or practice like yours, it might not make sense to promote an introverted employee with a lot of seniority to a managerial position that involves lots of phone calls with people and insurance companies.

2. Give Employees Room for Growth

If your staff feels like they are stuck in a figurative rut forever in their current roles, they will probably not aspire to do their best work every day. Instead, if you remind your employees that there is always room for growth within your behavioral health organization, it will give them the incentive to want to excel at their work. If a current position does not exist for a particular employee to work toward, consider creating one for him or her, even if it’s in title only and does not necessarily include a pay raise. The feeling of being valued and respected will inspire this employee to rise to the occasion.

3. Provide Autonomy with Responsibility

You don’t want your staff to be comprised of individuals incapable of making decisions on their own. A productive team with high morale is allowed to make work-related decisions by themselves — and then be backed up by more senior leadership. Reassure your team that they have your trust, and should an issue arise from their autonomous choices, you will work with them to find a solution.

4. Give Praise for Good, Even if it Isn’t Perfect

As a child, if you ever brought home a spelling test with a B+ grade, only to have your mom say “well, why didn’t you get an A?”, you might know how discouraging it can be to be criticized for being anything less than perfect. As LifeHack notes, you should celebrate victories with your employees, no matter how small or “imperfect” they may be. When your team sees that every positive contribution is acknowledged and praised — instead of nitpicked and criticized — they will be more likely to continue to do their best while at work. In addition, demanding perfection can cripple morale and lead to a high turnover rate, which will ultimately hurt your organization’s bottom line.

5. Don’t Overreact to Slight Mistakes

If you have an employee who is reliable and hardworking the vast majority of the time, it’s important to not lose your cool over the occasional minor mistake. When members of your team feel like they cannot make even a slight mistake, they will not want to take initiative for fear of losing their jobs. This can lead to an owner, provider, or office manager being the bottleneck of the group, rather than an encouraging, understanding, and empathetic leader.

6. Avoid Micromanagement at all Costs

Unfortunately, micromanaging is a common problem in all facets of behavioral health businesses. It can cause employees to feel burned out and take mental health days, which then costs organizations money and, at times, leaves you understaffed. Additionally, micromanaging makes people want to leave their jobs due to low morale. A Trinity Solutions survey found that 79 percent of respondents said they had or were experiencing micromanagement at work, and 69 percent said they had thought about changing jobs because of it. In addition, a whopping 85 percent of people surveyed said this nitpicking management style was ruining their morale. Even if you have everyone’s best interests at heart, avoid hovering over your staff and constantly monitoring and/or questioning them.

7. Implement Time Tracking to Measure Staff Productivity

After a section devoted to the perils of micromanaging, you might be surprised to read a title that looks, at first blush anyway, like it’s inherently demanding of your staff. But time tracking does not have to be intrusive or demoralizing; it is simply a way to measure and document the number of hours that are worked. In addition to helping raise the bar at work and setting more realistic expectations — for example, you might find that your top employees need four hours to complete a task instead of the two you predicted— you can also spot areas for improvement.

8. Provide Incentives — Both Team and Individual

Human beings are naturally competitive. They also love to be rewarded for their hard work. Think about how good it felt, as a child, just to be rewarded with a special sticker when you did well in school. At work, you don’t necessarily want to pit employees against each other to earn incentives, and you’ll likely want to come up with a “prize” other than a shiny sticker. You can still plan team incentives that inspire everyone to want to work better in order to accomplish a goal, and maybe earn a nice catered lunch in the process.

9. Provide Employees with the Tools to Succeed

While the first eight tips focused more on positive office culture and less on technology, the fact remains that you need to give your team quality products and tools to expect outstanding work. For example, when looking at ways to accomplish more in a limited amount of time, focus on those daily and repetitive tasks like accounts receivable, patient notification, and scheduling, and look for ways that they can be streamlined. Provide your staff with the tools to automate these tedious and common tasks, and you will find that your staff suddenly has more time to focus on other important tasks.

Be There for Your Staff, and They Will Be There for You

It is reassuring to know that boosting your staff’s productivity will not require attending some weekend-long seminar or have them go through hours of training. By following the nine tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to having a happier team with exceptional morale.


Alisa Vaughn is the Vice President of Operations at NextStep Solutions and has over twenty years of healthcare leadership experience including Operations Management and Practice Administration. She has dedicated her entire professional life to supporting physicians and healthcare professionals in privately owned organizations. Alisa is a Past Vice President and Business Partner Chair of Georgia MGMA and Past President and Educational Committee Chair of her local MGMA chapter, North Fulton MGMA, where she continues to engage as a healthcare industry leader. She focuses her passion for improving healthcare in operational areas, including; staff training and development, communication, strategic planning, and clinical quality process improvement.

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