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Try these no-cost ways to boost staff morale

To have good employees, an office “has to treat people right,” says Sabrina Hebert, manager of Northlake Surgical Associates, a five-physician, 12-staff office in Covington, LA. And her office does that by giving benefits that are a bit out of the ordinary, are well appreciated – and cost little or nothing.

The favorite is gift cards. At $0 cost. Herbert buys them with the reward points the office gets for using credit cards.

“I put everything I can on cards,” she says. Any bill that accepts cards gets paid that way. The expense is no different than paying by check, she explains, “so why not get the points?”

Hebert finds that an amazing number of vendors accept cards – medical and office supplies, waste collection, even utility companies. “The list is endless,” she says. And with a card being used at every opportunity, the points add up to several thousand dollars a year.

The gift cards vary. Some are for individual stores, some for gasoline, and at Christmas they are VISA gift cards.

Staff get them on special occasions such as Secretary’s Day. And in the middle of summer when gas prices go up, they get $50 gas cards. Most of the staff, she says, have a 30- or 40-minute commute to work, so those are a real pleaser.

Gift cards are appealing, she says, because staff see the full amount of what they get as opposed to a little more money “wrapped into the hourly wage.” It’s an extra.

Another benefit is occasional time off – again, at no cost.

The day before holidays, work permitting, Hebert closes the office two or three hours early, and staff get the time off with pay.

And every Friday includes a big perk. The office closes at 2:30 p.m. That’s actually a savings, she says, because staff work an 8½-hour day, which meant the office was paying overtime for the Friday afternoon hours. Now everybody has the shorter day to look forward to and the office doesn’t have the overtime expense.

Beyond that is the benefit of uniforms. Staff get three each year plus a jacket. And there too, the office sees a savings.

The shirts and jackets carry a monogrammed office logo, and each costs $10, which comes to $480 for the 12 staffers.

But one staff member does monogramming as a hobby, so Hebert gives her the business each year and allows her two days at home to do the work. The office gets the savings, and the staffer gets the benefit of two easy days at home.

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