Developing Employee Incentives to Help Grow Your Optometry Practice

By: Tyler Judkins, Business & Financial Advisor, PECAA

I have yet to hear a practice leader express interest, let alone enjoyment, in acting as their practice’s human resource manager. Employee dynamics and motivations are a critical part of every office, yet often times eye care practice leaders don’t spend enough time creating plans to effectively capitalize on, and in turn reward, their employees.

Well, based on my many conversations with PECAA members, I have complied some ideas for you to more effectively reward employees based on their performance in improving measurable goals within the practice. First, let’s take a look at what the goals of your eye care practice are, and what metrics you’ll need to track. Then, we’ll figure out ways for you to incentivize your optical staff that will help contribute to the improvement of your practice.

Create An Incentive Plan for Optical Staff Based on the Measurable Goals of Your Eye Care Practice

Traditional annual bonuses tied to performance reviews are no longer an effective method at motivating or retaining staff. In a poll conducted of over 3,000 individuals, 98% of staff found annual performance reviews unnecessary, while 93% of companies were still using them. Well, let’s instead focus on creating an incentive plan to help motivate your staff on an ongoing basis, while simultaneously working to improve your practice.

Successful incentive programs will depend on how you customize the program to fit the needs of your practice, and how you introduce, and implement, that program with your team. There is no ‘one size fits all’ plan, so monitoring and tweaking over time will be critical. My advice to practices would be to begin by creating an incentive plan for employees that is based on their performance in relation to easily measurable goals.

When starting to design your incentive program, first identify what it is that you are trying to accomplish. This may seem simplistic, but I often see doctors throw together a program without really stopping to think about what area of their practice would benefit the most from improvement. Understanding the personalities of your team should also factor into your planning. This can help determine which metrics to measure and what the rewards/payouts will be for achieving practice goals.

Once you have determined a plan, practice leaders must be completely transparent with their team as to what their expectations are (prior to the plan being implemented), as well as provide updates throughout the year to ensure progress remains on track. Visible tracking is key to most great incentive plans. If it isn’t visible or easily trackable by all those involved, it will not be top-of-mind and will ultimately lose effectiveness.

Incentivizing Staff – Let’s Look at An Example. 

As I’ve stated above, there is no magic incentive program that will work for all practices, however, I would like to share an incentive plan that I believe to be a good base start which you can customize to fit the needs of your practice. I’ve created a short 10 minute video along with a highly-customizable worksheet that i’ll share with you that walks you through one of my favorite incentive strategies. Practices can create their own daily, weekly, or monthly goals that reward staff if a certain percentage of those goals are met. Let’s take a look at the example below.

ABC Eye Care has identified a number of metrics that they want to measure and improve as shown above. This includes the amount of patient e-mails that are captured each day (their goal is 100%), the number of exams performed in a day (their minimum goal number is 12 exams), and so on and so on. They plan to keep track of these goals on a daily basis, so they’ve labeled their dates on the left of the spreadsheet. The goals that were met or exceeded are highlighted in green. They’ve laid out the terms of their rewards to the right of the spreadsheet. You can see on 1/1 that the staff only met 3 out of the 10 goals for that day. Well, Dr. Smith at ABC Eye Care didn’t think that amount was satisfactory, so staff didn’t get any reward that day. Well, on 1/3, staff met 8 out of the 10 goals for that day, so each staff member got a $20 reward. This can be paid out on a weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis.

What I like about this incentive system is that it’s highly customizable and very flexible. Use this as a starting point for your own plan. You may decide, for example, that you only want to focus on 3-5 metrics to begin with, and then add more in on a quarterly basis.

You may review the brief video I’ve created to help walk you through this process below.

You may download the customizable worksheet here.

Remember that these incentive ideas are meant to act as a starting point; you’ll need to customize your goals and the metrics you plan to track to the individual needs of your practice. Don’t forget that you can also offer non-traditional incentives as well. I have members that have offered additional time off, reimbursement for certifications, the ability to travel to select industry meetings… I always encourage practice leaders to think outside the box when it comes to motivating staff and helping grow the practice!

Follow Up Questions? 

Did you know that PECAA has a human resource support center for members? Powered by strategic vendor partner AmeriBen, PECAA members enjoy free access to AmeriBen’s resource center hotline with help on difficult employment issues such as wage and hourly questions, compensation, benefits and COBRA issues, performance improvement plans, performance appraisals, and more.

Contact Us to Learn More!

E-mail us at or call the PECAA office at 503-670-9200 to learn more about our human resource support center, or to ask us questions about staff pay and incentives from one of our practice advisors.

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